Leaders Hibernians ended their second round commitments with a 4-1 win over neighbours Tarxien Rainbows to extend their positive run to twenty-two matches. Hibs will therefore start the third round on the 30-point mark, at least seven points ahead of Valletta or Birkirkara should any team register a win in Sunday’s direct clash.
The Rainbows, on the other hand, will start the final phase on 11 points.
Hibernians had two changes from the team which drew with Mosta as Clayton Failla and Keith Tanti replaced Rodolfo Soares and Joseph Mbong. Brazilian striker Luis André de Melo Lima made his debut for the Paolites when he was included as a substitute. For Tarxien, new signing Mouhamed Soly replaced Obinna Ajoku Darlington while Matthew Tabone was named in the starting line-up ahead of Ryan Sammut.
Hibernians took the lead on the 15th minute when a cross by Tarabai was deflected by Jorge Pereira da Silva past goalkeeper Jonathan Debono.
Tarxien equalised on the 29th when Carlos Menendez Hevia sent Mouhamed Soly who beat Henry Bonello with a diagonal shot.
Hibernians regained the lead on the 61st minute when off a cross by Tarabai from the right, substitute Luis Andre de Melo Lima lobbed the ball over Jonathan Debono with a perfect header.
Eight minutes from time, Hibs increased the lead thanks to an Edison Luis dos Santos header off a freekick by Andrew Cohen from the left.
Two minutes in added time, Ishmael Grech floored Tarabai inside the area. Referee Alan Mario Sant ordered a penalty and Clayton Failla made no mistake from the penalty spot.
HIBS Henry Bonello, Keith Tanti, Jonathan Pearson, Jackson di Lima Siqueira, Andrew Cohen, Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla, Johann Bezzina (70’ Joseph Essien Mbong), Andrei Agius, Edison Luis dos Santos, Jorge Periera da Silva (46’ Luis Andre de Melo Lima)(90+2’ Jurgen Degabriele)
Subs not used: Jurgen Borg, Neil Falzon, Dunstan Vella, Kurt Cutajar.
TARXIEN Jonathan Debono, Kane Paul Farrugia (76’ Triston Caruana), Manuel Caruana, Eduardo Vallecillo Casado (67’ Obinna Ajoku Darlington), Carlos Hevia Mendez (90’ Steven Marc Sadowski), Jose Angel Godar Pereira, Ishmael Grech, Alexander Cini, Matthew Tabone, Mouhamed Soly, Manuel Bonaque Acevedo.
Subs not used: Antonio Chetcuti, Mikhail Schembri, Nigel Vella, Nigel Vella II.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, William Debattista
Fourth Official: Andre Arciola
Yellow Cards: Hevia, Cohen, Kristensen, Tabone, Jose Angel, Bonello
Scorers: 15’ Jorge Da Silva Pereira, 29’ Soly Mouhamed (T), 61’ Luis Andre De Melo Lima, 82’ Tarabai (H), 90+2’ Clayton Failla (pen)
BOV Player of the Match: Edison Luis dos Santos
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium: 1,465
Pietà Hotspurs returned to winning ways as they were quick to comeback from one goal down to beat Balzan 2-1. A win which puts the Hotspurs on the 11-point mark together with Naxxar Lions and Tarxien Rainbows at the beginning of the third round.
For Balzan, this was a highly disappointing result after they beat Valletta last week. This defeat meant that they failed to close in on Valletta and Birkirkara which face each other on Sunday.
For Balzan, Christian Cassar started in goal ahead of Steve Sultana while Lydon Micallef and Ryan Darmanin replaced the suspended Bojan Kaljevic and Gianmarco Piccioni in attack. On the other hand, Ricardo Costa replaced Gabriel for Pietà.
Balzan went close on the 5th minute with an Elkin Serrano header, off an Oscar Guerrero corner, which was turned into a corner by Montfort.
Samir Arab put Balzan ahead on the 11th minute, hitting past Montfort off a freekick by Bilbao Zarate.
Two minutes later, Pietà equalised when off a Claudio Frances freekick, Christian Grech beat Balzan goalkeeper Christian Cassar from close range.
The Hotspurs forged ahead one minute from half-time when Claudio Frances managed to enter the penalty area before beating Cassar with a fine curved shot.
On the 66th, Balzan were unlucky not to equalise when off a cross by Mifsud Triganza from the left, Oscar Guerrero’s conclusion was blocked by Miguel Montfort onto the crossbar.
BALZAN Christian Cassar, Justin Grioli, Dylan Grima (57′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza), Terence Agius (57′ Osa Ice Cream Guobadia), Edison Bilbao Zarate, Samir Arab (65′ Steve Bezzina), Ryan Darmanin, Oscar Guerrero, Clive Brincat, Lydon Micallef, Elkin Serrano.
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Steve Bezzina, Luke Sciberras, Godwin Mckay, Sean Cipriott.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
PIETÀ Miguel Montfort, Karl Micallef, Christian Grech, Leonardo Fortunato dos Santos, Jurgen Pisani, Orosco Anonam, Luke Micallef (68′ Dylon Agius), Rafael Rodrigues da Silva, Charles Nnaemeka Newuche (86′ Kyle Cesare), Claudio Frances, Ricardo Costa (66′ Joao Gabriel da Silva).
Subs not used: David Cassar, Ayrton Mizzi, Neil Pace Cocks, Christian Degabriele.
Coach: Noel Coleiro
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Christopher Francalanza
Fourth Official: Esther Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Rafinha, Brincat, Anonam
Scorers: 11′ Samir Arab, 13′ Christian Grech, 44′ Claudio Frances
BOV Player of the Match: Claudio Frances
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 702