Edison Luis dos Santos rescued a point for Hibernians as they could only earn a point in a 1-1 draw with Mosta. A draw which puts them fourteen points ahead of Valletta who however have a game in hand.
It was a deserved result for Mosta who controlled their opponents well after managing to take the lead towards the end of the first half.
Jackson Lima was awarded a place in the starting line-up for Hibernians as they lacked the suspended Clayton Failla apart from Rui de Gracia Gomes and Marcelo Dias. Mosta, on the other hand, had two players making their debut – Haruna Babangida and Michael Nicoise Dawood. Omar Borg was back in goal, replacing Kyle Gerada. Diogo was left out of the squad with Matheus Ribeiro starting on the bench.
The Blues forged ahead on 41 minutes when off a cross by Michael Nicoise Dawood, Haruna Babangida tapped the ball home from close range.
The Paolites were reduced to ten men on 68 minutes as Rodolfo Soares received a second yellow card for a foul on substitute Mateus Ribeiro. From the resulting freekick, Gary Roberts had a fine attempt turned into a corner by goalkeeper Henry Bonello.
Hibs equalised on the 75th minute when leading scorer Edison Luis dos Santos took advantage of a defensive blunder, placing the ball inside the empty net.
Three minutes later, Mosta were also reduced to ten men as it was the turn of Ryan Grech to receive a second yellow card and was therefore sent off.
The Blues could have regained the lead on the 84th thanks to a powerful shot by Gary Roberts, served by Nicoise Dawood, which was however blocked by Henry Bonello.
HIBS Henry Bonello, Jonathan Pearson, Rodolfo Soares, Andrew Cohen, Bjorn Kristensen, Johann Bezzina (73′ Timothy Tabone Desira), Jackson di Lima Siqueira, Andrei Agius, Edison Luis dos Santos, Joseph Essien Mbong (65′ Jurgen Degabriele), Jorge da Silva Pereira.
Subs not used: Jurgen Borg, Keith Tanti, Dunstan Vella, Kurt Cutajar, Neil Falzon.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
MOSTA Omar Borg, Karl Pulo, Tyrone Farrugia, Yannick Ossok, Kurt Magro, Gary Roberts, Haruna Babangida (64′ Mateus Ribeiro dos Santos), Ian Zammit, Ryan Grech, Jonas Rodriguez Ekani, Michael Nicoise Dawood.
Subs not used: Emmanuel Borg, Adrian Borg, James Brincat, Kyle Frendo, Zachary Brincat, Aaron Sammut.
Coach: Peter Smith
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Luke Portelli
Fourth Official: Philip Farrugia
Yellow Cards: Soares, Jackson Lima, Grech, Roberts
Red Cards: 68′ Rodolfo Soares, 78′ Ryan Grech
Scorers: 41′ Haruna Babangida, 75′ Edison Luis dos Santos
BOV Player of the Match: Omar Borg
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 912
Meanwhile at the Hibernians Stadium, Zebbug Rangers defeated Qormi 1-0 in the derby to leapfrog their neighbours and join Pietà Hotspurs on the 18-point mark.
This was the seventh consecutive defeat for Qormi who have now gone twelve matches without a win.
Emerson Vella, Edafe Uzeh and Marcelinho were named in the Qormi starting line-up with Leighton Grech starting on the bench. Luke Montebello and substitute David Alejandro Reano made their debut for Zebbug after joining the club earlier this week.
Qormi went close to taking the lead on 25 minutes with Alfred Effiong hitting the posts off a corner by Marcelinho. Zebbug goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo performed a good save on a powerful drive by Uzeh on the 36th and just before half-time, Alfred Effiong missed a great opportunity hitting wide in front of the empty net.
Luke Montebello tested the Qormi goalkeeper with a good shot on the 57th and nine minuets later, a good effort by Matthew Bartolo was neutralised by Farrugia, aided by the posts.
Zebbug scored the all-important goal ten minutes from time as goalkeeper Matthew Farrugia and defender Billy Bertnsson failed to clear the ball which reached Rashid Yussuff who hit home with a low diagonal shot.
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Christopher Edafe Uzeh, Marcelo Roberto Lima de Mattos (75’ Bjorn Bondin), Joseph Chetcuti (83’ Leighton Grech), Alfred Effiong, Clifford Gauci, Frank Temile (63’ Ryan Micallef), Emerson Vella, Duncan Pisani, Jonathan Bondin, Billy Berntsson.
Subs not used: Jurgen Cilia, Bjorn Bondin, Roderick Sammut, Pietro Viggiani, Karl Sciortino.
Coach: Josef Mansueto
ZEBBUG Manuel Bartolo, Yessous Camilleri, Lee Galea, Paltemio Barbetti, Jacob Borg, Matthew Bartolo, Mathias Mucchardi, Kurt Zammit (70’ Thomas Paris), Rashid Yussuff, Mauricio Osmar Rodrigues Britto (86’ David Alejandro Reano), Luke Montebello (74’ Miguel Ciantar).
Subs not used: Jeffrey Farrugia, Matthew Gauci, Melvin Farrugia, Shaun Borg.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Peter Abela
Additional Assistant Referees: Marco Borg, Malcolm Spiteri
Fourth Official: Roberto Vella
Yellow cards: Uzeh, Montebello, Yussuff
Scorers: 80’ Rachid Yussuff
BOV Player of the match : Muchardi
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium: 1,064