Valletta defeated rivals Hibernians by the odd goal in five in the direct clash between the two joint-leaders and therefore end 2015 alone on top the BOV Premier League table, three points ahead of the Paolites and five ahead of Birkirkara and Floriana. This was the fifth consecutive win for Paul Zammit’s side.
For Hibernians, this defeat brought to an end a positive run of eight matches, including five wins in their last five league outings.
Hibs coach Branko Nisevic could not count on the suspended Jurgen Borg and Andrei Agius and the injured Ian Azzopardi was missing for Valletta but Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao was back after a long absence.
Valletta had an edge over the opponents but only managed to break the deadlock on the 59th minute thanks to a low shot from outside the area by Jhonnattann Benites da Coneicao, following a swift counter-attack, which gave Hibs goalkeeper Rudy Briffa no chance.
Four minutes later, Hibs levelled matters thanks to Jorge da Silva Pereira whose low shot from the left beat the Valletta custodian.
However Valletta regained the lead on the 66th when off a corner by Abdelkarim Nafti from the left, Jean Borg rose high to head home past the Hibs goalkeeper.
Five minutes later, the Citizens increased the lead when Jhonnattann concluded a good run on the left flank with an assist for Abdelkarim Nafti who slotted the ball past Rudy Briffa.
Ten minutes from time, Hibernians reduced the gap thanks to Jorge Santos Silva whose angled shot from the right was deflected by Jonathan Caruana past the goalkeeper for an own goal.
VALLETTA Nicky Vella, Jonathan Caruana, Ryan Camilleri, Juan Gill Cruz, Roderick Briffa, Federico Falcone, Claudio Pani (36′ Jean Borg), Uchenna Umeh, Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao (85′ Nicholas Pulis), Abdelkarim Nafti (90′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza), Romeu Pericles Romao.
Subs not used: Henry Bonello, Daniel Camilleri, Russell Fenech, Jurgen Suda.
Coach: Paul Zammit
HIBS Rudy Briffa, Rui da Gracia Gomes, Jonathan Pearson, Jackson di Lima Siqueira (87′ Jean Paul Farrugia), Marcelo Dias (19′ Essien Mbong), Andrew Cohen, Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla, Jorge da Silva Pereira, Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro (70′ Jurgen Degabriele), Jorge Santos Silva.
Subs not used: Matthew Towns, Zack Scerri, Dunstan Vella, Daniel Buckle.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, William Debattista
Additional Assistant Referees: Esther Azzopardi, Trustin Farrugia Cann
Fourth Official: Martin Borg
Yellow Cards: M. Dias, Rudy Briffa, C. Pani, N. Vella, A. Cohen, R. Camilleri, Rod. Briffa
Scorers: 59′ Jhonnattan Benites da Conceicao, 63′ Jorge da Silva Pereira, 66′ Jean Borg, 71′ Abdelkarimm Nafti, 80′ own goal Jonathan Caruana
BOV Player of the Match: Jhonnattann