Hibernians came back from two goals down to rescue a point in a 2-2 draw with Sliema Wanderers at the National Stadium on Tuesday. Hibernians therefore move one point clear of Valletta who, however, have a game in hand.
The Blues, on the other hand, collect a precious point in the battle for a place in Europe. They now lie three points behind Gzira and two ahead of Birkirkara with the latter two being in action on Wednesday.
Sliema coach Stefano Maccoppi was forced to make one change from the team which defeated Mosta as Timothy Aquilina replaced the injured Jake Galea. Hibernians, on the other hand, had Marco Sahanek replacing the suspended Taylon Correa.
The Wanderers took the lead on the 21st minute when following a Younes Marzouk corner, Michele Sansone served Ryan Fenech whose cross was well-met by Ignacio Varela who slotted the ball past Jovicic from close range.
Four minutes from the end of the first half, Sliema doubled the score thanks to Younes Marzouk whose great cross shot from the left gave the Hibernians goalkeeper no chance.
Eight minutes in the second half, Joseph Mbong reduced the gap with a shot from inside the area which beat Aquilina.
On the 68th minute, Hibs were awarded a penalty after Timothy Aquilina brought Jake Grech down inside the area and from the penalty spot, the former Hamrun and Birkirkara midfielder made no mistake.
The Paolites could have made it 3-2 on the 78th when off a cross from the right by Jake Grech, Tiago Adan Fonseca was unlucky to hit the crossbar.
Hibs defender Nemanja Radojevic was sent off for Hibernians after receiving two yellow cards in less than a minute for fouls.
HIBS Marko Jovicic, Dunstan Vella, Nemanja Radojevic, Marcio Barbosa da Silveira, Joseph Mbong, Jake Grech, Marcelo Dias (83′ Rafael Tardini Monteiro), Bjorn Kristensen, Marco Sahanek, Andrei Agius, Tiago Adan Fonseca (90+2′ Timothy Tabone Desira).
Subs not used: Rudy Briffa, Connor Zammit, Daniel Abela, Andrei Spiteri, David Xuereb.
Coach: Stefano Sanderra
Asst. Coach: Ryan Pulis
SLIEMA Timothy Aquilina, Matias Muchardi, Kurt Shaw, John Mintoff (75′ Kilian Amehi), Ignacio Varela, Ryan Fenech (85′ Jonathan Pearson), Nii Nortey Ashong, Michele Sansone, Claudio Pani, Stefano Bianciardi, Younes Marzouk.
Subs not used: Miguel Bonnici, Alex Muscat, Gareth Barone, Omar Elouni, Peter Xuereb.
Coach: Stefano Maccoppi
Asst. Coach: Ivan Woods
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Roberto Vella, Duncan Sultana
Fourth Official: Malcolm Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Grech, Fonseca, Marzouk, Mintoff, Radojevic
Red Cards: 87′ Nemanja Radojevic
BOV Player of the Match: Ryan Fenech