FA Trophy: Valletta fight back from two goals down to secure their place in the semi-finals

Valletta fought back from two goals down to secure a 3-2 win over ten men Hibernians that sealed their place in the semi-finals of the FA Trophy.

Photo: Dominic Borg
Photo: Dominic Borg

Fresh from last Saturday’s triumph over the Paolites, Valletta came into this match eager to win again in order to keep on believing that they can secure their second consecutive double.

On the other hand, Hibs were still heartbroken after losing the decider on penalties. Despite this, Stefano Sanderra’s men were still hopeful of winning silverwear and thus a win over Valletta was a must.

Valletta created the first opportunity of the match after six minutes. Antonio Monticelli squared the ball for Bojan Kaljevic whose shot from inside the penalty area went marginally off target.

Hibernians hit back and forged ahead on the 11th minute. Timothy Tabone Desira exchanged possession with Marco Sahanek and the latter drilled a low shot past Henry Bonello.

Joseph Mbong doubled the lead for Hibernians on the 20th minute. Marcolino delivered an excellent cross towards the youngster who slotted the ball home from close range.

Hibs kept on insisting and threatened Valletta again on the 38th minute. Tiago Adan Fonseca fired a shot that was saved by Bonello in two attempts.

Bonello was on the alert again five minutes prior to half-time. Sahanek’s effort from a free-kick forced an excellent save from Valletta’s goalkeeper.

The turning point of the match for Hibernians was a red card shown in the direction of Marcelo Dias on the 50th minute. The Hibernians player was shown a straight red card following a foul on Bogdan Gavrila.

Following the red card, Valletta took hold of the game and nearly pulled one back on the 65th minute. Enmy Pena Beltre’s delivery was bet by Gavrila who forced a brilliant save from Marko Jovicic.

Hibernians replied on the 73rd minute. From a free-kick, Sahanek’s delivery went into the path of Bjorn Kristensen who headed the ball slightly over.

However, Valletta pulled one back a minute late. Steve Borg’s long ball from the back filtered through for Bojan Kaljevic on the right side of the penalty area. The Montenegrin kept his composure and finished past Jovicic.

Valletta equalised on the 84th minute. Fontanella’s delivery found Nicholas Pulis and the substitute headed the ball inside the net.

Following the goal, both sides failed to create anything as the match went into extra time.

Kaljevic sealed Valletta’s win on the 103rd minute. Fontanella’s cross was met by the Montenegrin and the latter placed the ball home.

Hibs were unlucky not to equalise on the 119th minute. Sahanek’s delivery from a corner fell for Kristensen whose header stamped off the upright.

Following this result, Valletta will now face Gzira United in the semi-final of the FA Trophy.

Hibernians starting line-up: Marko Jovicic, Timoth Tabone Desira (Connor Zammit-105), Dunstan Vella, Nemanja Radojevic, Leandro Barbosa (Daniel Abela-115), Joseph Mbong, Marcelo Dias, Bjorn Kristensen (David Xuereb-120), Taylon Nicolas Macolino (Jake Grech-83), Marco Sahanek, Tiago Adan Fonseca

Valletta starting line-up: Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Antonio Monticelli (Nicholas Pulis-65), Santiago Malano, Kyrian Nwoko, Jean Borg, Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre, Ibrahim Saleh, Bogdan Gavrila (Jeremy Micallef-121), Bojan Kaljevic (Shaun Dimech-110), Mario Fontanella

Referee: Stefan Pace

Assistant Referees: Jurgen Spiteri, Mitchell Scerri

Fourth Official: Emanuel Grech

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