Two quick goals towards the hour paved the way for BOV Premier League leaders Hibernians as they beat Pietà Hotspurs 3-0 at the Hibernians Stadium to move temporarily eighteen points clear of second-placed Birkirkara and Valletta.
This defeat leaves the Hotspurs second from bottom on 14 points, two behind Tarxien and three behind Naxxar and Qormi.
Terence Agius was missing for the Hotspurs and Marcelo Dias was absent for Hibernians as both were serving a one-match ban.
As expected, Hibernians held the initiative going close on the 12th minute with a header by Tarabai, off a Clayton Failla freekick, tipped over the bar by David Cassar. Ten minutes later, a fine Clayton Failla freekick was deflected by a defender into a corner. Just before half-time, Kyle Cesare sent Rafael Rodrigues through but the latter’s effort was neutralised by Henry Bonello.
Hibs managed to take the lead on the 61st minute when off a corner by Clayton Failla from the right, Edison Luis dos Santos’ half-volley beat goalkeeper David Cassar.
Two minutes later, Clayton Failla’s powerful drive ended in the low corner on the right hand side of the Pietà goalkeeper for the Paolites’ second goal.
Jorge Pereira da Silva was unlucky to hit the posts for Hibernians on 73 minutes.
Pietà could have reduced the gap on 88 minutes when Bonello fouled Christian Grech inside the area but Jurgen Pisani’s effort from the penalty spot was parriedby the Hibernians goalkeeper.
One minute later, Andrew Cohen sent Tarabai through and the latter scored the eighteenth goal of the season thanks to a rising shot which gave Cassar no chance.
HIBS Henry Bonello, Timothy Tabone Desira, Rui da Gracia Gomes (76’ Jonathan Pearson), Jackson di Lima Siqueira, Rodolfo Soares, Andrew Cohen, Bjorn Kristensen (80’ Johann Bezzina), Clayton Failla, Andrei Agius, Edison Luis dos Santos, Jorge Pereira da Silva (60’ Joseph Essien Mbong)
Subs: Jurgen Borg, Keith Tanti, Jurgen Degabriele, Dunstan Vella.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
PIETÀ David Cassar, Cain Attard, Christian Grech, Leonardo Fortunato dos Santos, Jurgen Pisani, Orosco Ndubisi Anonam, Gabriel Joao Da Silva, Rafael Rodrigues da Silva (82’ Malcolm Licari), Kyle Cesare (70’ Cleaven Cassar), Claudio Daniel Frances, Luke Micallef (64’ Dylon Agius).
Subs not used: Miguel Montfort, Neil Pace Cocks, Karl Micallef, Ayrton Mizzi.
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Andre Arciola
Yellow Cards: Leo Fortunato, Grech, Kristensen, Bonnelo
Scorers: 61’ Edison Luis dos Santos, 63’ Clayton Failla, 89′ Edison Luis dos Santos
BOV Player of the Match: Clayton Failla
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium: 686
At the Victor Tedesco Stadium, Balzan brought to an end their winless streak as they defeated Mosta 1-0. For Balzan, this was the first win since September 27. A win which puts them back in fourth place.
For Mosta, this was the second consecutive defeat after losing to Naxxar in the derby last week.
Mosta lacked Manolito Micallef, Dyson Falzon, Daniel Mariano Bueno and the suspended Ryan Grech. Balzan, on the other hand, were in full strength.
The two teams disappointed during the first half with hardly any shot at goal.
Mosta were reduced to ten men on 28 minutes as Bojan Kaljevic was sent off following an off-the-ball incident with Elkin Serrano.
One minute from half-time, Balzan almost took the lead when off a cross by Justin Grioli from the left, Ryan Darmanin hit the upright.
Four minutes in the second half, Balzan managed to break the deadlock thanks to a great goal by Edison Bilbao Zarate who received the ball from a freekick rounded a defender and beat goalkeeper Omar Borg with a perfect lob.
The Mosta custodian came to the rescue two minutes later, blocking a powerful drive by Osa Ice-Cream Guobadia from outside the area.
In added time, Mosta had a second player sent off as Pedro Calcado received a second yellow card by referee Mario Apap. But it was not over yet as Oscar Guerrero also received a second yellow card and was therefore sent off for Balzan.
The final whistle brought clashes between a number of players and officials from the two teams and police had to intevene to restore calm.
BALZAN Steve Sultana, Justin Grioli, Steve Bezzina, Elkin Serrano, Edison Bilbao Zarate, Osa Ice-Cream Guobadia, Clive Brincat (22′ Samir Arab), Ryan Darmanin (67′ Lydon Micallef), Oscar Dario Guerrero, Luke Sciberras (74′ Michael Borg), Gianmarco Piccioni.
Subs not used: Christian Cassar, Juan Corbalan, Sean Cipriott, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
MOSTA Omar Borg, Jonas Rodriguez Ekani, Tyrone Farrugia, Mark Brincat, Karl Pulo (46′ Youssou Lo), Nemanja Milovanovic, Kurt Magro, Kurt Zammit (83′ James Brincat), Bojan Kaljevic, Mateus Ribeiro dos Santos, Pedro dos Santos Calcado.
Subs not used: Kyle Gerada, Kyle Frendo, Aaron Sammut, Matteo di Vita.
Coach: Peter Smith
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Paul Apap
Additional Assistant Referees: Clayton Pisani, Glen Tonna
Fourth Official: David Castillo
Yellow Cards: Calcado, Magro, Ekani, Guerrero, Zarate, Lo, Bezzina, Micallef
Red Cards: 28′ Kaljevic, 90+3′ Pedro Calcado, 90+4′ Oscar Guerrero
Scorers: 49′ Edison Bilbao Zarate
BOV Player of the Match: Edison Bilbao Zarate
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 493