Hibernians moved fifteen points clear at the top of the BOV Premier League table after defeating nine-man Valletta 3-1.
Valletta showed better ideas in the early stages, taking a deserved lead but the turning point of the game were the two red cards for Jonathan Caruana and Ryan Fenech which left Ivan Zammit’s side in nine men for over fifty minutes. The Citizens tried their best to control their opponents who were now brimming with confidence. The Paolites managed to equalise early in the second half, taking the lead a few minutes later and sealing the issue with a goal on the 90th.
Hibs, who extend their positive run to fourteen wins in fifteen matches, now lead the way with 43 points, followed by Valletta and Birkirkara on 28.
Having no players injured or suspended, both coaches could field their best formation. Valletta, in fact, had no changes from the team which defeated Floriana 4-1. Hibernians, on the other hand, welcomed back Marcelo Dias who replaced Joseph Mbong.
The Citizens managed to take the lead on 22 minutes when Lateef Elford-Alliyu received a cross by Ryan Fenech and after rounding the goalkeeper, he placed the ball at the back of the net.
Valletta were however reduced to ten men on the 32nd minute after Jonathan Caruana was sent off by referee Mario Apap for retaliation following a foul by Marcelo Dias.
Five minutes later, Ryan Fenech received a second yellow card for a late tackle on Dias, leaving the Citizens in nine men.
Hibernians levelled matters seven minutes in the second half thanks to Andrew Cohen who was lucky to receive the ball after an erratic clearance by a defender and beat goalkeeper Nicky Vella with a rising shot from the edge of the area.
The Paolites forged ahead on 57 minutes thanks to Jorge Pereira da Silva, intelligently served by Cohen, slotting the ball past Vella from inside the area.
On the 90th, Hibs scored the third goal thanks to Jorge Pereira da Silva who entered the penalty area before hitting low past Vella from the left.
HIBS Henry Bonello, Rui da Gracia Gomes, Rodolfo Soares, Marcelo Dias (67′ Jackson di Lima Siqueira), Andrew Cohen (82′ Timothy Tabone Desira), Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla, Johann Bezzina (90′ Jonathan Pearson), Andrei Agius, Edison Luis dos Santos, Jorge Pereira da Silva.
Subs not used: Jurgen Borg, Keith Tanti, J hoseph Essien Mbong, Jurgen Degabriele.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
VALLETTA Nicky Vella, Jonathan Caruana, Ian Azzopardi, Steve Borg, Ryan Camilleri, Ryan Fenech, Roderick Briffa, Lateef Elford-Alliyu (58′ Hugo Faria), Hamza Barry, Shaun Bajada (60′ Llywelyn Cremona), Abdelkarim Nafti (34′ Luke Dimech).
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Luke Montebello, Hamid Al Kamali, Christian Caruana.
Coach: Gilbert Agius
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referees: William Debattista, Peter Abela
Additional Assistant Referees: Andre Arciola, Fyodor Zammit
Fourth Official: Clayton Pisani
Yellow Cards: Bajada, Fenech, Dias, Tarabai, Agius, Briffa, Soares
Red Cards: 32′ Jonathan Caruana, 34′ Ryan Fenech
Scorers: 22′ Lateef Elford-Alliyu, 52′ Andrew Cohen, 57′ Jorge Pereira da Silva, 90′ Jorge Pereira da Silva
BOV Player of the Match: Andrew Cohen