Matchday 04: Valletta 1 Hibernians 1
Hibernians and Valletta earned a point each in a 1-1 draw in this weekend’s big match from the BOV Premier League.
The Paolites were seeking a third win on the trot while the Citizens were hoping to bounce back after the defeat to Gżira United.
Valletta held the initiative during the first half but after the break, Hibernians held the upper hand. All in all, a draw was a fair result.
Both sides had a number of changes from their last outing. Valletta had Mario Fontanella making his first league appearance this season while Leandro Aguirre, Eslit Sala and Taisei Marukawa were back in the starting line-up.
Hibernians, on the other hand, were without U-21 internationals Zachary Grech and Ayrton Attard while Rundell Winchester was among the substitutes. Andrei Agius, Edafe Uzeh and Shola Shodiya were all restored in the starting XI after being included as substitutes in the previous game.
The Citizens had an edge over their opponents during the first half but Hibs goalkeeper Matthew Calleja Cremona was hardly tested. However, on the half hour, they had a free-kick taken by Triston Caruana going just wide
Valletta managed to break the deadlock five minutes from the end of the first half when Aguirre served Shaun Dimech on the left and the latter passed the ball to Taisei Marukawa who pulled to the left before beating Calleja Cremona with an angled shot, deflected by Edafe Uzeh.
On the restart, Hibernians started to show greater determination and three minutes in the second half, the Paolites missed an excellent opportunity to level matters when Jurgen Degabriele, all alone in front of the goalkeeper, concluded wide.
Two minutes later, a powerful drive by Rowen Muscat ended just over the bar for Valletta.
Ferdinando Apap sent Jake Grech through on the right, only to be floored by Henry Bonello inside the area on 62 minutes. Referee Malcolm Spiteri ordered a penalty and Grech duly converted from the penalty spot.
On 68 minutes, Gabi Izquier delivered a cross from the left, Agius headed the ball down and Apap failed to connect from close range but the ball was cleared into a corner.
A minute later, Degabriele pounced on a through pass on the right but his conclusion hit the side netting.
Mario Fontanella headed wide off an inviting cross by Zerafa one minute from time and in a counter-attack for Hiberians in the 90th, Bjorn Kristensen sent Degabriele through but his low shot was neutralised by Bonello.
VALLETTA: Henry Bonello, Jonathan Caruana (17′ Shaun Dimech), Triston Caruana, Santiago Malano (77′ Ryan Fenech), Enmy Pena Beltre, Joseph. Zerafa, Taisei Marukawa, Eslit Sala, Rowen Muscat, Leandro Aguirre (68′ Miguel Angel Alba), Mario Fontanella.
HIBERNIANS: Matthew Calleja Cremona, Ferdinando Apap, Leandro Almeida da Silva, Edafe Uzeh (46′ Dunstan Vella), Jake Grech, Jurgen Degabriele, Bjorn Kristensen, Gabriel Izquier Artiles, Shola Shodiya (90+1′ Connor Zammit), Andrei Agius, Jose Wilkson Teixeira.
Referee: M. Spiteri
Scorers: 40′ Taisei Marukawa (V), 64′ Jake Grech (H)
Yellow Cards: E. Uzeh, G. Izquier (H), E. Pena Beltre, J. Zerafa, H. Bonello, I. Sala (V)
BOV Player of the Match: Taisei Marukawa (V)