Day 17 Valletta 0 Hibs 1
Hibernians grabbed three vital points at the expense of Valletta to keep within striking distance of leaders Balzan in the premier league today.
The issue was resolved in the second half by the solitary goal of Jackson Lima.
Valletta defender Jonathan Caruana sent Cohen crashing to the ground in Hibernians’ first venture towards the Valletta penalty area inside the first ten minutes. The free-kick was awarded on the left flank just outside the box. Jackson exacted a delightful right-foot strike that Dziugas Bartkus blocked with difficulty.
On 20 minutes, Valletta breathed a sigh of relief when Clayton Failla’s ferocious drive rattled the woodwork after Zammit’s men had failed to cut out the winger’s incursion from the left.
Gradually, Valletta came more into the picture and the danger stemmed from the right wing, precisely from the feet of Romeu Romao who sidestepped his marker before laying the ball to Uceh Calistus whose volley was pushed into the corner by Andrew Hogg.
Past the half hour mark, Romao caused more consternation into the Hibs’s box with a darting run, only to be denied by Jackson Lima’s timely tackle.
On 39 minutes, Jhonnattann exchanged the ball with Radzinevicius who showed good skills to return the ball to the Brazilian in quick one-two combination, before setting up Calistus who fired just wide off the far post.
On the other side, Hibernians served up a reminder of their attacking ability when Degabriele transferred quickly the ball to Jorginho who fired straight into Bartkus’s hands.
The second half was heralded with a shot after 48 minutes from Jhonnattann from just 9 metres out which incredibly rolled just wide after being set up by delicate backheel touch by Radzinevicius.
Close to the hour, Hibs should have put their noses in front when Kristensen’s delivery sailed toward the unmarked Degabriele but the striker incredulously shot into the goalkeeper.
The striker redeemed himself when getting into the box following a mazy run on the right flank, Bartkus had to stretch himself to block with his feet. The rebound fell kindly at the feet of Jackson Lima who unleashed a low drive into the bottom far corner, sending his fans into ecstasy.
At this point, Zammit signalled his intent to play more direct football and boost his attacking impetus as he brought on Luke Montebello for the positive Calistus as Jhonnattan was given a roaming role behind Radzinevicius to be able to pick the ball deep in his own half and use his speed to head for goal.
Miller responded with Timothy Tabone Desira for Cohen and promptly tweaking his formation in a re-designed 4-4-2 set-up.
Valletta nearly forced a draw six minutes from time when Steve Borg ran unhindered on the right as his shot-cum-cross caused panic in the Hibs box but it found no takers. That was that, Hibs were safely through.
Source – timesofmalta.com
VALLETTA – D. Barktus, R. Camilleri, S. Borg, J. Benites, R. Romao, J. Caruana, L. Aguirre (J. Borg), U. Calistus (L. Montebello) , V. Alhino, T. Radzinevicius, R. Muscat (L. Cremona).
HIBERNIANS – A. Hogg, C. Faila, J. Degabriele (D. Vella), J. Lima, A. Cohen (T. Tabone Desira), B. Kristensen, R. Soares, M. Dias, A, Agius, J. Mbong (R. Tellas), J. da Silva Pereira,
Scorers: 60′ J. Lima (H)
Yellow Cards: B. Kristensen, J. Lima, R. Saores, C. Failla (H), U. Calistus (V)
Referee: C. Pisani