Leaders Hibernians moved temporarily eleven points clear in the BOV Premier League table following a most comfortable 5-0 win over Zebbug Rangers at the Hibernians Stadium. This was the twenty-first win for Hibernians in twenty-four matches to extend their unbeaten record in their league campaign.
More was expected from Zebbug who were coming from a fine 3-2 win over Valletta last week. They now share the eighth place with Pietà, one point ahead of Tarxien and Naxxar and three ahead of Qormi.
The Paolites had one change from the team which defeated Qormi as Marko Rajic replaced the suspended Tarabai. Zebbug coach Alfonso Greco, on the other hand, maintained faith in the same eleven players which had started the last game against Valletta.
Hibs took the lead on the 9th minute when Bjorn Kristensen sent Jorge da Silva Pereira through and the latter rounded the goalkeeper before placing the ball at the back of the net.
Clayton Failla doubled the score on 23 minutes when he received an assist by Adrew Cohen and beat Manuel Bartolo with a low powerful shot.
On the 29th, the Paolites scored the third goal when off a freekick from the right, Andrei Agius headed the ball over Bartolo.
Five minutes from the end of the first half, Andrew Cohen scored the fourth goal direct from a freekick with a curved shot.
Substitute Miguel Ciantar was unlucky to hit the woodwork for Zebbug on the 70th.
Nine minutes later, Hibs made it 5-0 when off a cross from the left by Clayton Failla, Andrew Cohen headed home past Bartolo.
ZEBBUG Manuel Bartolo, Jacob Borg, Paltemio Barbetti, Mathias Muchardi, Yessous Camilleri, Matthew Bartolo, Rashid Yussuff, Mauricio Osmar Rodrigues Britto,(46’ Miguel Ciantar), David Alejandro Reano, Thomas Paris (86’ Kurt Zammit), Luke Montebello (55’ Carlo Gordon Monti)
Subs not used: Jeffrey Farrugia, Matthew Gauci, Lee Galea, Melvin Farrugia.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
HIBS Henry Bonello (61’ Jurgen Borg), Rui da Gracia Gomes (76’ Keith Tanti), Jackson di Lima Siqueira, Rodolfo Soares, Andrew Cohen, Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla, Marko Rajic (64’ Jurgen Degabriele), Andrei Agius, Joseph Essien Mbong, Jorge Periera Da Silva.
Subs not used: Timothy Tabone Desira, Jonathan Pearson, Johann Bezzina, Jean Paul Farrugia.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant Referees: William Debattista, Roberto Vella
Additional Assistant Referees: Clayton Pisani, Malcolm Spiteri
Fourth Official: Jurgen Spiteri
Yellow cards: Bartolo, Britto, Camilleri
Scorers: 9’ Jorge da Silva Pereira (H), 23’ Clayton Failla (H), 29’ Andrei Agius (H), 40’ Andrew Cohen (H)
BOV Player of the Match: Andrew Cohen
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium: 1,099
Meanwhile at the Victor Tedesco Stadium, Balzan survived an early scare as they came back from one goal down to beat Naxxar Lions 2-1 and return to winning ways after collecting just one point from the previous two matches. This win puts Balzan back in joint-fourth place together with Floriana.
Naxxar, on the other hand, remain joint-second from bottom on eleven points as they suffer a second consecutive defeat.
Osa Guobadia and Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza were named in the starting line-up, replacing Terence Agius and Gianmarco Piccioni. Naxxar welcomed back Frank Temile who had missed the last game as he was serving a suspension. He replaced Pablo Doffo who started the game on the bench.
Naxxar had a perfect start taking the lead after just two minutes when they were awarded a penalty after Gilmar was brought down by Elkin Serrano. Terence Vella made no mistake from the penalty spot.
On the 36th minute, Elkin Serrano was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a header from close range.
One minute from half-time, Bojan Kaljevic was floored inside the area, referee Marco Borg ordered a penalty and from the penalty spot, the Montenegrin striker made no mistake.
Nine minutes in the second half, Bojan Kaljevic was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a powerful drive when served by Grioli on the right.
However eight minutes from time, Balzan notched the winner when off an assist by Bojan Kaljevic, Oscar Guerrero slotted the ball past goalkeeper Julian Azzopardi with a shot from the edge of the area.
In added time, goalkeeper Julian Azzopardi almost equalised for Naxxar as his close-range effort was blocked by Balzan goalkeeper Steve Sultana as Jesmond Zerafa’s side went all out in search of the equaliser.
NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi, Andrew Scicluna, Emmanuel Ibok Edet, Frank Temile (76′ Pablo Doffo), Terence Vella, Mattia Del Negro, Daren Falzon (85′ Duane Bonnici), Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro, Angus Buhagiar, Jorge Santos Silva, Albert Bruce.
Subs not used Luke Pecorella, Adam Pace, Ryan Gilmour Cassar, Jurgen Debono Ryan Mercieca.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
BALZAN Steve Sultana, Justin Grioli, Dylan Grima (76′ Terence Agius), Oscar Guerrero, Edison Bilbao Zarate, Steve Bezzina, Bojan Kaljevic, Osa Ice Cream Guobadia, Clive Brincat (72′ Samir Arab), Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (70′ Ryan Darmanin), Elkin Serrano Valero.
Subs not used: Christian Cassar, Lydon Micallef, Godwin Mckay, Sean Cipriott.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
Referee: Marco Borg
Asssitant Referees: Luke Portelli, David Castillo
Fourth Official: Esther Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Bruce, Zarate, Grioli, Falzon, Kaljevic, Azzopardi
Scorers: 2′ Terence Vella pen, 45′ Bojan Kaljevic pen
BOV Player of the Match: Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 547