BOV Premier League | Hibernians 2 – Valletta 1

Valletta’s disastrous start to the new campaign continued as they suffered a 2-1 defeat against Hibernians.

Photo: Christine Borg
Photo: Christine Borg

The match failed to rise to expectations during the first half. Both teams cancelled each other inside the centre of the pitch with neither side causing any real threat.

In fact, supporters had to wait till the 41st minute in order to witness a chance on goal. Miguel Angel Alba’s powerful shot from distance sailed wide.

Two minutes later, Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre sent a dangerous cross towards Mario Fontanella who failed to make contact with the ball from an ideal position.

Hibs replied one minute from half-time. Following a defensive mistake by Valletta’s players, Joseph Mbong’s shot was parried for a corner by Henry Bonello.

During the additional time given by the referee prior to half-time, Ivan Blazevic went inside the penalty area and fired a shot that was blocked by Bonello. From the rebound, Dunstan Vella finished over.

The Paolites made a good start to the second half and threatened Valletta on the 49th minute. Ivan Blazevic’s shot from distance was saved by Bonello. The ball fell for Nicolas Marcolino whose angled shot hit the side netting.

However, Valletta were unlucky not to score the opening goal of the match on the 56th minute. Joseph Zerafa drilled a cross towards Bogdan Catalin Gavrila and the latter saw his header hitting the upright.

Despite losing this opportunity, the Citizens opened the score seconds later. Miguel Angel Alba fired a strong shot from outside the penalty area that stunned Andrew Hogg.

Valletta lost a golden opportunity to score again on the 74th minute. Alba’s cross from a free-kick was met by Matteo Picciolo whose header forced a decent save from Hogg. From the rebound, Mario Fontanella finished wide in front of an open goal.

Danilo Doncic’s side kept on insisting and were denied by Hogg once more on the 77th minute. Fontanella sent a shot that was blocked by Hogg. Picciolo tried to make the most out of the rebound, but his effort was deflected for a corner.

Valletta paid harshly for losing these opportunities as Hibernians equalised on the 80th minute. Following a long ball from the back, Valletta’s defence left the ball rolling backwards. Substitute Nicolas Marcolino arrived on the ball before Bonello and lobbed the ball past him.

Bonello was on the alert to keep Valletta level one minute from time. Marcolino failed to conclude following a cross from Jurgen Degabriele. The ball fell for Mbong whose shot was saved by Valletta’s custodian.

However, Bonello could do nothing to save his side from losing the match a minute later. Degabriele’s powerful shot was blocked by the Maltese goalkeeper. Andrei Agius was at the right place at the right time and finished inside the net from close range.

After this goal, Valletta didn’t have enough time to react as Hibs held firm to take home another three points.

Hibernians starting line-up: Andrew Hogg, Dunstan Vella, Nemanja Radojevic, Joseph Mbong, Marcelo Dias, Jurgen Degabriele, Isaac Ntow, Johann Bezzina, Andrei Agius, Ivan Blazevic, Adan Fonseca

Valletta starting line-up: Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Santiago Malano, Matteo Picciolo, Jean Borg, Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre, Joseph Zerafa, Ibarahim Saleh, Miguel Angel Alba, Bogdan Catalin Gavrila, Mario Fontanella

Referee: Alan Mario Sant

Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Jurgen Spiteri

Additional Assistant Referees: Fyodor Zammit, Jude Admin Utulu

Fourth Official: Duncan Sultana

BOV Player of the Match: Miguel Angel Alba (Valletta)

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