Hibernians returned to winning ways as a brace by Argentine striker Imanol Iriberri handed them a 2-0 win over Santa Lucia at the Hibernians Stadium on Monday.
The Paolites, who were coming from back-to-back defeats to Birkirkara and Hamrun Spartans join Mosta in sixth place on the 13-point mark, three behind second-placed Sirens and Gzira United. For Santa Lucia, this was the third defeat in four matches as they remain tenth on nine points.
Hibernians had Joseph Mbong replacing the suspended Bjorn Kristensen while Imanol Iriberri was preferred to Terrence Groothusen. Gabriel Bohrer Mentz, on the other hand, was back for Santa Lucia who also had Carlos Riascos Torres making his debut. Wilkerson Junnior de Souza Gomes and Nick Borg were also named in the starting line-up as they replaced Jamie Zerafa, Diego Mosquera Segura, Camilo Escobar and Rei Tachikawa.
Santa Lucia went close on the 13th minute with a close range effort by Nick Borg following a cross by Kevin Ante Rosero from the right.
Four minutes from the end of the first half, the Paolites managed to take the lead when off a Timothy Tabone Desira cross from the right, Imanol Iriberri hit low past Anthony Curmi.
Eight minutes in the second half, Hibernians doubled the score thanks to Imanol Iriberri, served by Dunstan Vella, whose fine shot from the edge of the area gave the Santa Lucia goalkeeper no chance.
A good move between Maycon Santana and Kevin Ante Rosero saw them exchange the ball with the former’s effort neutralised by Jovicic on the 57th minute. Nine minutes later, the Hibs goalkeeper performed a good save on a Carlos Riascos Torres header following a cross from the right.
One minute from time, Hibernians could have added another when they were awarded a penalty after Gabi Izquier was brought down inside the area by Riascos Torres but substitute Terrence Groothusen’s effort from the penalty spot was parried by Caruana.
SANTA LUCIA Ryan Caruana, Gabriel Bohrer Mentz, Jackson David Usuga Mendoza, Maycon de Jesus Santana, Kevin Ante Rosero, Carlos Riascos Torres, Jacob Walker, Daniel Agius, Farid Zuniga, Wilkerson Gomes, Nick Borg (58’ Omar Elouni).
Subs not used: Dorian Bugeja, Adam Magri Overend, Neil Micallef, Jamie Magri Overend, Jamie Zerafa, Lee Galea.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
Asst. Coach: Brian Chetcuti
Goalkeepers Coach: Julian Mallia German
HIBS Marko Jovicic, Timothy Tabone Desira, Ferdinando Apap, Marcio Leandro Barbosa da Silveira, Joseph Mbong, Jake Grech (71’ Jens Wemmer), Dunstan Vella, Gabriel Izquier Artiles, Andrei Agius, Leonardo Nanni (82’ Myles Beerman), Imanol Iriberri (86’ Terrence Groothusen).
Subs not used: Matthew Calleja Cremona, Jurgen Degabriele, Matthew Ellul, Ayrton Attard.
Coach: Stefano Sanderra
Asst. Coach: Ryan Pulis
Goalkeepers Coach: Sam Bartolo
Referee: Stefan Pace
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Mitchell Scerri
Fourth Official: Mario Apap
Yellow Cards: Bohrer, Mendoza, Apap, Barbosa, Zuniga
BOV Player of the Match: Imanol Iriberri