Day 06 Valletta 0 Hibs 2
Hibernians completed a dismal week for Valletta after beating the champions 2-0.
Goals from Rodolfo Soares and Jurgen Degabriele gave Hibs a deserved victory while handing Valletta their second defeat in five days after they had lost to derby rivals Floriana on Wednesday.
The early sending-off of Umeh Calistus Uchenna was a fatal blow for Valletta but they had been outshone by Hibs before the Nigerian’s red card with the Paolites taking advantage of their extra man in the second half to bounce back from their defeat to Balzan.
Hibernians’ bright opening rattled Valletta whose task was further compounded by the 24th-minute dismissal of Umeh Calistus Uchenna.
The Paolites had gone close after just three minutes when Jurgen Degabriele’s low effort, following a pass from Johaqnn Bezzina, was stopped by Henry Bonello, the Valletta goalkeeper.
Hibs were dangerous again as Joseph Mbong, unmarked at the far post, reached Clayton Failla’s cross but Ian Azzopardi stood his ground to block the winger’s effort away for a corner.
Another brilliant chance for Hibs went abegging when another excellent through- from Bezzina sent Degabriele through but the striker sent the ball wide after holding off Bonello.
Valletta had to wait until 17 minutes to create a half-chance. It came from Romeu Romao whose angled strike was wide.
Miller’s men were unlucky not to take the lead on 20 minutes as Bezzina again slipped a perfect through-ball to Degabriele but the latter’s rising shot hit the crossbar.
Valletta’s difficulties increased on 24 minutes when Uchenna was shown a straight red card by referee Glen Tonna after the Nigerian pushed the goalbound Telles after Hibs had broken on the counter through Degabriele.
Jackson Lima’s free-kick was parried away by Bonello and, moments later, Degabriele niodded over from Dias’s cross.
Bonello made another fine save to keep out another dangerous effort from Degabriele 11 minutes from half-time.
There was no respite for Valletta as Hibs monopolised possession. Telles’s quick footwork took him past Steve Borg but the Brazilian’s grounder was again stopped by Bonello.
Hibs resumed the initiative after the break. They opened the scoring after nine minutes when Jackson Lima’s corner, from the right, came to Rodolfo Soares who fired past Bonello from inside the box.
The Paolites nearly doubled their lead when Telles danced his way into the box from the left but the Brazilian was thwarted by Bonello.
But, on 58 minutes, the Paolites extended their advantage. Kristensen’s raking pass was picked up by Mbong who surged past Azzopardi on the right before dragging the ball back to Bezzina. The latter’s touch sent the ball towards Degabriele who hammered past Bonello from close range.
Valletta looked stunned. They had a chance to get back into contention when Malano’s free-kick was partially clearewd by the Hibs defence but Cruz Gill’s volley was too weak to trouble Hogg.
There was an appeal for a penalty from Valletta when Jhonnattann tumbled to the ground after being challenged by Dias inside the box but Tonna was unmoved.
At the other end, Failla drove wide after surging into the box from the left.
Nine minutes from time, Hogg prevented Valletta from narrowing the deficit as he warded off Jhonnattann’s free-kick – given for a foul by Kristensen on Romao – before the Hibs defenders cleared.
When Bonello fumbled a shot from Jorginho, who had come on for the limping Failla, Degbariele was first to the loose ball but his effort flashed against the base of the post.
Telles, the Hibs winger, was named BOV player of the match.
Source – timesofmalta.com
VALLETTA – H. Bonello, S. Borg, S. Malano (M. Mifsud), J. Borg (L. Cremona), U. Calistus, I. Azzopardi, J. Benites (R. Fenech), J. Caruana, F. Falcone, R. Romao, J. Gill Cruz
HIBS – A. Hogg, R. Soares, M. Dias, J. Lima, B. Kristensen, C. Failla (J. Da Silva Pereira), R. Telles (J. Varea), J. Bezzina, J. Mbong (A. Cohen), J. Degabrielle, A. Agius
Yellow Cards: F. Falcone, R. Romao (V), R. Telles, B. Kristensen (H)
Red Card: U. Calistus (V)
Man of Match: R. Telles (H)
Scorers: 54′ R. Soares, 58′ J. Degabriele (H)
Referee: G. Tonna