Day 10 Valletta 0 Hibernians 0
Leaders Valletta were held to a goalless draw by Hibernians to move two points clear of second-placed duo Balzan and Gzira United at the top of the table.
While the result looks disappointing for Valletta, being the more adventurous side, they were relieved to come out of this test with a point in the bag as goalkeeper Henry Bonello made two vital saves in the closing stages to deny the much-improved Paolites.
Valletta were first to settle. Hardly 10 minutes from the start had elapsed when Valletta had the ball in the net but Raed Saleh’s flick was ruled out for an infringement when the Oman midfielder flashed in to meet a loose ball.
From a typical counter-attack, on 21 minutes, Hibs Jurgen Degabriele, gave the illusion of goal as his diagonal shot flashed against the side-netting.
On the half hour mark, the Hibernians custodian Andrew Hogg bobbled a 25-metre blast by Steve Borg but the ball bounced harmlessly out and disaster was averted.
Joseph Zerafa created Valletta’s best chance in the second half, by playing in Nwoko in the area in the 5oth minute but the striker fired straight at Hogg.
It proved to be Zerafa’s last meaningful contribution as he was sent off by referee Malcolm Spiteri for a challenge on Jackson Lima five minutes later. Hibernians looked to make their extra man count but Bonello thwarted them when saving Degabriele’s effort with his feet after the latter had been sent clear by Jackson.
Hibs grew in confidence as Jackson Lima teased a wicked shot which Jean Borg cleared temporarily, but as the Valletta defence stood almost hypnotised, Bonello breathed a sigh of relief as the Brazilian’s second attempt finished wide as Valletta held on for a precious point.
Source – Times of Malta
VALLETTA – H. Bonello, R. Camilleri, K. Nwoko (R. Muscat), J. Cruz Gill, S. Malano, J. Zerafa, R. Saleh, J. Borg, S. Borg, M. Piciollo (M. Mifsud), D. Dos Santos (C. Pani).
HIBERNIANS – A. Hogg, B. Kristensen (M. Filho), J. Degabriele, D. Vella, R. Soares, M. Dias, C. Failla (M. Kreuzriegler), J. Lima, J. Bezzina, A. Agius, M. Sahanek (J. Dos Santos).
Yellow Cards: J. Zerafa, J. Cruzz Gill, S. Borg, H. Bonello (V), A. Agius, J. Bezzina, M. Dias (H)
Red Card: J. Zerafa (V)
Man of Match: R. Saleh (V)
Referee: M. Spiteri