Hibernians joined Valletta on top the BOV Premier League, before the Citizens face Birkirkara on Sunday, as they registered a fine 3-1 win over third-placed Balzan at the National Stadium.
The Paolites were clearly the better side right from the start and fully deserved to take home the three points.
Jorge da Silva Pereira put Hibernians ahead on the 19th with a fine curved shot from the left which gave goalkeeper Ivan Janjusevic no chance.
The Paolites doubled the score on the 27th when a close-range shot by Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro was blocked by the goalkeeper and off the rebound, Jorge Santos Silva placed the ball at the back of the net.
Two minutes from half-time, Alfred Effiong almost pulled one back when his angled shot beat the Hibs custodian but Marcelo Dias came to the rescue clearing the ball off the goal line.
Hibs scored the third goal on the hour when a cross shot by Clayton Failla was not held by Janjusevic and Jorge Santos Silva placed the ball at the back of the net with a back-heel shot.
Four minutes from time, Balzan scored a consolation goal thanks to Justin Grioli whose powerful drive from well outside the penalty area ended in the top left corner.
HIBS Justin Haber, Jonathan Pearson, Jackson di Lima Siqueira, Rodolfo Soares, Marcelo Dias, Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla (73′ Diosdado Mbele Mangue Mba), Andrei Agius, Jorge da Silva Pereira, Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro, Jorge Santos Silva (90′ Jurgen Degabriele).
Subs not used: Jurgen Borg, Dunstan Vella, Zach Scerri, Joseph Essien Mbong, David Xuereb.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
BALZAN Ivan Janjusevic, Justin Grioli, Paul Fenech, Steve Bezzina (73′ Ryan Fenech), Pedro dos Santos Calcado, Samir Arab (31′ Samir Arab), Alfred Effiong, Alan da Silva Souza, Lydon Micallef (75′ Aleksandar Vujacic), Elkin Orlando Serrano Valero, Dylan Grima.
Subs not used: Christian Cassar, Bojan Kaljevic, Sean Cipriott, Luke Sciberras.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
Referee: Clayton Pisani
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, David Castillo
Additional Assistant Referees: Mario Apap, Emanuel Grech
Fourth Official: Luke Portelli
Yellow Cards: P. Fenech, Pedrinho, Dias, Serrano, Santos Silva, R. Fenech
Scorers: 19′ Jorge da Silva Pereira, 27′ Jorge Santos Silva, 60′ Jorge Santos Silva
BOV Player of the Match: Jorge Santos Silva
Attendance at the National Stadium: 1,586
Meanwhile Mosta secured their Premier League status as they defeated Tarxien Rainbows 1-0 at the Victor Tedesco Stadium.
Following two goalless draws in the first two rounds, this clash seemed heading towards another goalless draw but fifteen minutes from time, the Blues scored the all-important goal when off a corner, Godwin Mensha blasted the ball past goalkeeper Andrea Cassar.
TARXIEN Andrea Cassar, Brandon Muscat, Alex Nilsson (71’ Luke Montebello), Ayrton Azzopardi, Sergio Fernandez Prendes, Daniel Zerafa, Matthew Tabone, Ryan Spiteri, Nicolas Rios Ezequivel (46’ Bruno Giglio De Oliviera), John Mintoff (38’ Alex Da Paixao Alves), Claudio Frances
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Roderick Bajada, Matthew Tabone, Joao Pedro Oliviera Santos.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
MOSTA Omar Borg, Jonas Rodriguez Ekani, Edile Micheletti, Tyrone Farrugia, Fatai Alabi, Donatus Onyekachi Okonkwo, Godwin Mensha (90+4’ Adrian Borg), James Brincat (85’ Dexter Xuereb), Zachary Brincat (77’ Dyson Falzon), Kyle Frendo, Osa Guobadia.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Lyden Micallef, Aaron Sammut, Emanuel Ebuika Ljezie.
Assistant Coach: Ivan Zammit
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Roberto Vella, Martin Borg
Fourth Official: Glen Tonna
Yellow Cards: J. Mintoff, K. Frendo, O. Borg, A. Cassar, O. Guobadia, Z. Brincat, O. Okonkwo
Scorers: 75’ Godwin Mensah
BOV Player of the Match : James Brincat
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 392
Renato Vella reporting from the Victor Tedesco Stadium