Valletta and Hibernians shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw in an entertaining clash at the Tony Bezzina Stadium on Sunday.
Valletta, now under the guidance of coach Thane Micallef, had Enzo Ruiz, Oke Akpoveta, Brandon Paiber, Bradley Kamden, Kilian Bevis and substitute Ulrich N’Nomo making their debut while Hibernians, led by Andrea Pisanu, had Gonzalo Llerena, Yunusa Muritala and Rodolfo Soares making their league debut after playing for the Paolites in the European competitions earlier this summer. The latest signing for Hibernians, Jairo Murillas was included as a substitute late in the game.
Valletta were a better side in the early stages, going close with a Clive Gauci effort after goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone could only save partially a corner by Paiber. Hibernians, however, soon threatened with a Gonzalo Llerena first time effort, when served by Jake Grech, which was neutralised by Alessandro Guarnone. Jurgen Degabriele then had a shot from outside the area ending high following an assist by Yunusa Muritala.
Valletta took the lead on the 58th minute when Enmy Pena Beltre concluded a good run on the right flank with an assist for Shaun Dimech who slotted the ball past goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone.
However, three minutes later, Hibs levelled matters. Gonzalo Llerena delivered a cross from the right with Gabriel Izquier trying to control the ball but losing possession to Enzo Ruiz whose short clearance saw the ball end at the feet of Gonzalo Llerena who lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Guarnone and into the net.
Four minutes from time, the Citizens almost notched the winner but Ibrahim Kone performed a great save on an Enzo Ruiz header off a Brandon Paiber freekick from the left while on the 90th, a good move between two substitutes – Ulrich N’Nomo and Andrea Zammit ended with the latter’s shot being neutralised by the Hibs goalkeeper.