Day 27 Valletta 3 Hibernians 2 Published on: 07-04-2012

Valletta made a significant step towards retaining the league title after coming from a goal down to beat rivals Hibs 3-2 in a pulsating match at the National Stadium.

Needing a win to cancel out their three-point gap with the leaders, Hibs were the better side in the opening half, taking a deserved lead through Luis Edison but Gilbert Agius's headed equaliser late in the first half changed the course of the game.

The champions were on top for most of the second half as they moved 3-1 up with 10 minutes left before Hibs pulled one back in a tense finale in which Valletta goalkeeper Andrew Hogg was sent off for time-wasting.

The win lifted Valletta six points clear of the Paolites with only five games left.

Inside the opening two minutes, Hibs' Edward Herrera cut inside from the right but his angled effort was kept out by Andrew Hogg, the Valletta goalkeeper.

Denni nearly fired Valletta ahead on nine minutes. His initial pass to Michael Mifsud was intercepted but the ball flew back to the Brazilian whose first-time drive was pushed away by Mario Muscat.

The early exchanges were brisk with the two sets of fans in terrific voice as the teams stormed into each other.

Hibs protested for a penalty when Luis Edison 'Tarabai' went down as he was challenged by Jonathan Caruana but referee Chris Lautier waved play on.

Tarabai's penetrating runs were posing problems to Valletta as Hibs looked the more organised side in the early stages,Hibs had the ball in the net on 18 minutes but Tarabai was offside.

Five minutes later, Hibs struck. Andrew Cohen was the provider with an excellent through-ball to Tarabai who sped through before hitting past Hogg to send the Paola fans into raptures.

Things became more complicated when Ian Azzopardi, who was filling in for the suspended Steve Borg in central defender, appeared to suffer an eye injury and had to come off.His place was taken by Roderick Bajada as William Barbosa dropped back into defence.

On 28 minutes, Barbosa managed to send his free-kick beyond Hibs' human barrier but his effort was too central to unnerve Muscat.Danger loomed for City when Bajada's miscued pass was pounced upon by the alert Herrera who stormed forward before crossing for Tarabai but the Brazilian was offside.

Uplifted by their opener, Hibs were now playing the better football. The Hibs fans had good cause to feel frustrated when referee Lautier failed to sanction what looked like a clear handsball by Barbosa in blocking a dangerous cross.

Reprieved, Valletta levelled six minutes from half-time. Denni's corner from the right sailed into the centre of the box and Gilbert Agius directed a glancing header into the net, much to the delight of the City fans.

On the stroke of half-time, Valletta had a great chance to go ahead when Gilbert Agius beat Hibs' offside trap as he ran onto Denni's pass before releasing Mifsud but the latter miscued his attempt.

Buoyed by their equaliser, Valletta made the better start to the second half as Zerafa's decision to bring on Terrence Scerri gave Valletta's attack a new dimension.

Zongo tried his luck with a long-range drive that ended high. Hibs were now forced to defend but they continued to pose danger every time they attacked. Herrera's shot was saved by Hogg and Jason Vandelannoite produced a shot from the distance that sailed over.

On the hour mark, Valletta came close as Panandetiguiri made good progress on the left before passing Mifsud whose first-time shot flew past the near post. Hibs were also dangerous when Herrera's cross was partially cleared by the Valletta defence as the ball glanced off Tarabai and grazed the near post.

On 63 minutes, Scerri darted clear on the right before putting in a centre. Rodolfo Soareas appeared well-placed to clear only to be anticipated by the speedy Denni who was brought down by the Brazilian. Lautier pointed to the spot and Barbosa drilled his shot past Muscat to put Valletta 2-1 up.Hibs were rattled.

Their hopes vanished when, 10 minutes from time, Roderick Briffa flicked the ball home at the far post from Nahuel Pulitano Jimenez's free-kick to send the City fans into delirium.The Paolites staged a late reaction. Steve Pisani, a late substitute, blasted his shot from the edge of the box and Herrera hit wide after going past Panandetiguiri.

The celebrations of the City fans proved too much for some of the Hibs fans, forcing the police to step in to calm the situation.

While all this was happening, Hibs won a penalty after Barbosa was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area.

Failla made no mistake from the spot and, from the ensuing scramble, Hogg was red-carded after earning a second booking for kicking the ball away.

As Valletta had already used all three substitutions, Panandetiguiri went in goal but his stint between the posts only lasted seconds as the referee's final whistle soon followed.

Denni was named BOV player of the match.


VALLETTA - A. Hogg, D. Dos Santos, J. Caruana, I. Azzopardi (R. Bajada), O. Zongo (N. Jimenez), G. Agius (T. Scerri), S. Panandetiguiri,  W. Barbosa,  R. Briffa, E. Agius, M. Mifsud.

HIBERNIANS - M. Muscat, A. Cohen, E. Herrera, A. Xuereb (S. Pisani), B. Kristensen, J. Pearson (R. Camilleri), R. Soares, C. Failla, J. Vandelannoite, M. Dias, E. Luis Dos Santos.

BOV Premier League
Date: 07-04-12     Time: 17:00    Venue: National Stadium

Scorers: 23' Edison Luis Dos Santos (H), 38' Gilbert Agius (V), 64' William Barbosa pen (V), 80' Roderick Briffa (V), 90' Clayton Failla (H).

Yellow Cards:  R. Bajada, J. Vandelannoite, D. Dos Santos, M. Muscat, M. Mifsud, S. Panandetiguiri, J. Pearson, A. Hogg, W. Barbosa.
Red Card: A. Hogg
Man of Match: Denni Dos Santos (V)

Referee: Chris Lautier