Hibernians beat Balzan to join Valletta on top

Hibernians joined Valletta on top the BOV Premier League table as a brace by Bjorn Kristensen paved the way for a 3-2 win over Balzan in this weekend’s big match at the Victor Tedesco Stadium.

For Balzan, this was the third defeat in four matches, leaving them in third place together with Birkirkara and Floriana, two points behind Hibs and Valletta.

From their last game against St. Andrews, Hibs had two changes as Jonathan Pearson and Jorginho replaced Gilmar and Jurgen Degabriele. Balzan had Valerio Senatore in goal, replacing Christian Cassar while Justin Grioli was preferred to Steve Bezzina.

Hibernians managed to take the lead on 32 minutes when off an Andrew Cohen freekick from the left, Bjorn Kristensen headed the ball over Senatore from an angled position.

However three minutes later, in a swift counter-attack for Balzan, Vujacic released Alfred Effiong on the left and the latter beat Jurgen Borg with a diagonal shot.

Two minutes from the end of the first half, Hibs regained the lead thanks to another Bjorn Kristensen header off another freekick by Cohen.

Two minutes in the second half, Hibs went close once again with a direct freekick by Jackson Lima which hit the crossbar.

The Paolites made it 3-1 on the 49th when off an Andrew Cohen corner from the left, Jonathan Pearson headed the ball home past Senatore.

Clayton Failla could have added another on the 80th but his great freekick hit the upright with the goalkeeper beaten.

Four minutes from time, Elkin Serrano Valero headed the ball home from close range after Zarate headed the ball in his direction off a freekick by Mensha.

HIBS Jurgen Borg, Rui da Gracia Gomes, Jonathan Pearson, Jackson di Lima Siqueira, Marcelo Dias, Andrew Cohen (77′ Jurgen Degabriele), Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla, Andrei Agius, Jorge da Silva Pereira (66′ Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro), Jorge Santos Silva.
Subs not used: Rudy Briffa, Diosdado Mbele Mba Mangue, Zack Scerri, Dunstan Vella, Joseph Essien Mbong.
Coach: Branko Nisevic

BALZAN Valerio Senatore, Dylan Grima, Justin Grioli, Samir Arab (81′ Ryan Darmanin), Lydon Micallef (67′ Godwin Mensha), Clive Brincat, Alfred Effiong, Elkin Serrano Valero, Edison Bilbao Zarate, Aleksandar Vujacic, Luke Sciberras (81′ Steve Bezzina).
Subs not used: Christian Cassar, Terence Agius, Maxim Focsa, Jamie Zerafa.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri

Referee: Tristan Farrugia Cann
Assistant Referees: William Debattista, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official: Mario Apap
Yellow Cards: Brincat, Zarate, Pearson, Failla
Scorers: 32′ Bjorn Kristensen, 35′ Alfred Effiong, 43′ Bjorn Kristensen, 49′ Jonathan Pearson, 86′ Elkin Serrano Valero
BOV Player of the Match: Andrew Cohen
Attendance: 1,128