Hibernians came back from a goal down to beat champions Valletta 2-1 at the National Stadium on Saturday as the Citizens suffered a second defeat in as many matches to remain at the bottom of the table without any points.
The Paolites, on the other hand, registered a second consecutive 2-1 win to join Birkirkara and Sliema Wanderers on maximum points.
Valletta had two changes from the team which lost to Sliema as Jean Borg and Bogdan Gavrila replaced Ryan Camilleri and Juan Cruz Gill while Hibs coach Stefano Sanderra relied on the same eleven players who had started the game against Pietà Hotspurs last week.
Following a goalless first half, Valletta were unlucky not to take the lead on the 55th when off a cross by Joseph Zerafa from the left, a header by Bogdan Gavrila hit the crossbar.
However a minute later, they took the lead as Miguel Angel Alba took a short clearance by the Paolites’ defence and beat Hogg with a rising shot from outside the area.
Hibernians equalised on the 79th minute when substitute Taylon Correa intercepted a header by Steve Borg for the goalkeeper and placed the ball at the back of the net.
Hibs notched the winner on the 90th minute when Jurgen Degabriele’s powerful shot from outside the area was partially saved by Bonello and off the rebound, Andrei Agius slotted past the Valletta custodian.
Photo: Copyright © Andrew Grima
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VALLETTA Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Santiago Malano, Matteo Piciollo, Jean Borg, Enmy Pena Beltre, Joseph Zerafa, Raed Ibrahim Saleh, Miguel Angel Alba, Bogdan Catalin Gavrila (70′ Kyrian Nwoko), Mario Fontanella.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Miguel Attard, Russell Fenech, Shaun Dimech, Nicholas Pulis, Ryan Tonna.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
Asst. Coach: Gilbert Agius
HIBS Andrew Hogg, Dunstan Vella (69′ Bjorn Kristensen), Nemanja Radojevic, Joseph Mbong, Marcelo Dias, Jurgen Degabriele, Isaac Toah Ntow, Johann Bezzina, Andrei Agius, Ivan Blazevic (83′ Timothy Tabone Desira), Tiago Adan Fonseca (46′ Taylon Nicolas Correa Marcolino).
Subs not used: Rudy Briffa, Conner Zammit, Kane Bonello, David Xuereb.
Coach: Stefano Sanderra
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Jurgen Spiteri
Additional Assistant Referees: Fyodor Zammit, Jude Amin Utulu
Fourth Official: Duncan Sultana
Yellow Cards: Blazevic, Saleh, Alba, Zerafa
BOV Player of the Match: Miguel Angel Alba
Attendance at the National Stadium: 1,486
Meanwhile at the Victor Tedesco Stadium, Balzan claimed their first three points in a 4-2 win over Qormi.
Balzan had to wait until four minutes from the end of the first half to take the lead when they were awarded a penalty after Lubos Adamec floored Andrija Majdevac inside the area and Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes converted from the penalty spot.
Eleven minutes in the second half, Ivan Bozovic doubled the score with a curling shot from the right which beat goalkeeper Jamie Azzopardi.
Nine minutes later, Andrija Majdevac made it 3-0 when he received an assist by Ljubomirac, rounded the goalkeeper and placed the ball inside the empty net.
Substitute Luke Busuttil reduced the gap for Qormi on the 71st minute as he took advantage of a defensive blunder and hit home.
Balzan went 4-1 ahead through Alex da Paixao Alves who hit home when served by Majdevac on the 76th.
Another substitute, Tensior Gusman, scored a second goal for Qormi on the 90th.
BALZAN Steve Sultana, Justin Grioli, Dale Camilleri, Alex da Paixao Alves (77′ Lydon Micallef) Michael Johnson, Uros Ljubomirac, Ivan Bozovic, Elkin Serrano Valero, Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes (61′ Alfred Effiong), Andrija Majdevac, Milos Lepovic (69′ Sean Cipriott).
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Steve Bezzina, Neil Frendo, Gary Camilleri.
Coach: Marko Micovic
Asst. Coach: Velibor Kopunovic
QORMI Jamie Azzopardi, Davide Mansi, Yannick Yankam (65′ Michael Borg), Seo-In Kim, Manolito Micallef, Michael Camilleri (70′ Luke Busuttil), Alan Abela (62′ Tensior Gusman), Gaetano Gesualdi, Alessio Cassar, Lubos Adamec, Kassiano Mendonca Soares.
Subs not used: Dorian Bugeja, Nathan Gauci, Alexsandro Ferreira, Iven Zammit.
Coach: Brian Spiteri
Asst. Coach: Matthew Psaila
Referee: Etienne Mangion
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Chris Francalanza
Fourth Official: Stefan Pace
Yellow Cards: Ljubomirac, Lepovic, Kassiano, Lecao, Cipriott
BOV Player of the Match: Andrija Majdevac