Day 27 Valletta 2 Hibs 4 Published on: 31-03-2013
It’s game over for champions Valletta as their defence of the Premier League title has finally collapsed when they lost to an excellent Hibernians side that has finally broke their duck against Valletta this season following two defeats.
Hibs stunned the champions when taking the lead inside the opening five minutes. Luis Edison Tarabai was the catalyst as his powerful incursion down the right unnerved the back-tracking Valletta, in particular Jason Vandelannoite.
An inch-perfect free-kick by Andrew Cohen to Edison, who put pressure on the Belgian defender and the latter deflected the ball past Manuel Bartolo at the near post.
Hibernians’ brisk opening left no-one in doubt as the massive challenge facing Valletta to avert their third defeat on the trot.
Yet, Valletta’s effort failed to torment Hibs as their rearguard mounted a barricade in front of goalkeeper Mario Muscat who was not really tested in the opening half-hour.
And Valletta’s hopes of mounting a serious response suffered a blow after 25 minutes when Vandelannoite, who had endured a miserable afternoon, lost concentration and allowed Tarabai to steal from behind.
The defender’s only reaction was to haul the Brazilian down, resulting in an inevitable red card. Vandelannoite’s offence was clearly committed outside the box but referee Malcolm Spiteri ruled it had been inside the box and awarded a penalty kick.
Despite the double advantage, Hibernians retained their poise. Dias, who had been quieter than his attacking colleagues, got in on the act after 30 minutes. The Brazilian advanced unimpended on the right flank but his shot was repelled by the keeper into the direction of Farrugia who scrambled the ball home from close in.
And, with Valletta chasing a lost cause and leaving space at the back, Farrugia fired over from few metres out when he was set free by Edison.
The Lilywhites refused to give up even in the face of impossible odds and William Barbosa drew a modicium of pride as he grabbed a lifeline for his otherwise sinking colleagues. In the 40th minute, Failla felled Mifsud in the area as Barbosa stepped up to plant past Muscat from the spot.
Midway into the second half, Miller tried to bring some renewed urgency to their game as the minutes ticked away as he made a double substitution bringing on Abubaker Bello-Osagie and Gabriel for Barbosa and Denni.
These clearly had an uplifting effect on Valletta as Briffa quickly delivered a cross towards the unmarked Bello-Osagie who headed over from close in after 77 minutes.
But three minutes later, Jackson Lima illuminated the proceedings with a fulminating thunderbolt from the distance that gave Bartolo no chance.
Yet, at death, the Hibernians defence was caught out as Bello-Osagie charged into the box. Muscat strode out of goal to block the Nigerian’s run and the latter tumbled to the ground as the Hibernians goalkeeper dived at his feet.
The referee pointed to the spot and showed Muscat the red card. Daniel Balzan replaced Farrugia but the young goalkeeper could do nothing to stop Tourè’s shot from the spot.
VALLETTA - M. Bartolo, J. Caruana, J. Vandelannoite, R. Fenech, I. Azzopardi, R. Briffa, D. Dos Santos (J. Gabriel), W. Barbosa (A. Bello Osagie), M. Mifsud, E. Agius (D. Falzon), D. Toure.
HIBERNIANS - M. Muscat, R. Camilleri, J. Pearson, R. Soares, M. Dias (J. Lima), A. Cohen, B. Kristensen, C. Failla, Z. Levniac, E. Luis Dos Santos (A. Azzopardi), J. P. Farrugia (D. Balzan).
Date: 30-03-13 Time: 16:00 Venue: National Stadium
Yellow Cards: B. Kristensen, R. Camilleri, J. P. Farrugia (H), R. Fenech, D. Toure, R. Briffa, J. Caruana (V)
Red Cards: J. Vandelannoite (V), M. Muscat (H)
Scorers: 5' J. Vandelannoite (O.G.), 26' C. Failla, 30' J. P. Farrugia, 40' W. Barbosa, 80. J. Lima, 90' D. Toure.
Man of Match: Edison Luis Dos Santos (V)
Referee: Triston Caruana