Taylon Correa Marcolino scored twice for Hibernians but missed a penalty on the 90th minute as the Paolites shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw with Balzan at the National Stadium on Monday. A draw which puts Hibernians on level points with Gzira United on top the BOV Premier Leaugue table.
Balzan therefore halted the Paolites’ fine run of eight consecutive wins but Marko Micovic’s side are still sixth, eight points behind the leaders.
Micovic was forced to make two changes as Justin Grioli and Uros Ljubomirac were serving a one-match ban while Sean Cipriott was named among the substitutes. They were replaced by Steve Bezzina, Andrija Majdevac and Milos Lepovic.
Stefano Sanderra, on the other hand, welcomed back Nemanja Radojevic, replacing Johann Bezzina.
Hibernians almost managed to take the lead on the 15th minute when Taylon Correa served Jurgen Degabriele on the left and off the latter’s assist, Tiago Adan Fonseca hit low from close range but Steve Sultana cleared off the goal line. Seven minutes later, Majdevac served Alex da Paixao Alves whose effort ended just wide.
Balzan, however, managed to take the lead on the 26th minute when off a Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes freekick from the left, Andrija Majdevac’s close-range effort was blocked by Hogg but off the rebound Alfred Effiong placed the ball at the back of the net.
Seven minutes from the end of the first half, Steve Bezzina, served by Kadu, went close with a diagonal shot from the left after the Hibs defenders failed to clear the pass and one minute from the end of the first half, Alex da Paixao Alves’ powerful drive hit the crossbar.
However on the 45th minute, Hibernians equalised when Elkin Serrano was adjudged to have floored Taylon Correa Marcolino and from the penalty spot, the Brazilian striker made no mistake.
Balzan regained the lead on the 72nd minute when Ivan Bozovic’s assist from the right found Andrija Majdevac in an excellent position inside the area to control and hit low past Hogg.
Four minutes later, Hibs restored equilibrium thanks to the usual Taylon Correa who received a perfect cross from Tiago Adan Fonseca from midfield and anticipated the Balzan goalkeeper.
Balzan went close with a diagonal shot by Cipriott from the right and then a header by Majdevac off a cross by Lepovic from the right just missed the target.
However one minute from time, Elkin Serrano handled the ball inside the area following a shot by Joseph Mbong. Serrano received a second yellow card and was therefore sent off and from the penalty spot, Taylon Correa missed the target.
BALZAN Steve Sultana, Nenad Sljivic, Alex da Paixao Alves, Steve Bezzina, Michael Johnson (79′ Dale Camilleri), Alfred Effiong (34′ Sean Cipriott), Ivan Bozovic, Elkin Serrano Valero, Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes, Andrija Majdevac, Milos Lepovic.
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Lydon Micallef, Siraj Arab Eddin, Zak Grech, Gary Camilleri.
Coach: Marko Micovic
Asst. Coach: Velibor Kopunovic
HIBS Andrew Hogg, Dunstan Vella, Nemanja Radojevic, Joseph Mbong, Marcelo Dias, Jurgen Degabriele (86′ Guttiner Fernando Costa Tenorio), Bjorn Kristensen (46′ Johann Bezzina), Isaac Ntow, Taylon Nicolas Correa Marcolino, Andrei Agius, Tiago Adan Fonseca.
Subs not used: Rudy Briffa, Connor Zammit, Daneel Abela, Carlos Grech, David Xuereb.
Coach: Stefano Sanderra
Asst. Coach: Ryan Pulis
Referee: Stefan Pace
Assistant Referees: Luke Portelli, Edward Spiteri
Fourth Official: Glen Tonna
Yellow Cards: Bozovic, Serrano, Sultana, Dias, Cipriott, Majdevac, Lecao, Cadu
Red Cards: 89′ Elkin Serrano
BOV Player of the Match: Taylon Correa