Day 16 Valletta 1 Hibernians 1 Published on: 07-01-2012

Valletta maintained their six-point gap over Hibs after their second-round meeting ended one-all this evening.

The Paolites enjoyed an excellent opening as they took the lead inside the opening four minutes but Rodolfo Soares’s headed goal was cancelled out by Michael Mifsud on the half-hour mark.

The champions were the better side for much of the second half but erratic finishing and a string of fine interventions from Hibs goalkeeper Mario Muscat preserved the stalemate, in the process extending the Paolites’ positive record against their rivals this season following their first-round win.

Belgian defender Jason Lee Vandelannoite made his first appearance for Hibs while striker Michael Mifsud was back in the frame for Valletta after recovering from an ankle injury.

Hibs could not have hoped for a brighter start as they took the lead after just four minutes. Clayton Failla’s corner from the right flew into the six-yard box and Rodolfo Soares headed home from close in.

The Citizens had to wait until the 12th minute to create their first move. Denni passed to Roderick Briffa on the right but the latter’s cross flew past the swooping Mifsud.

Gilbert Agius’s tame volley was easily saved by Mario Muscat on 19 minutes as Valletta took control. Ousseni Zongo’s swerving run from the left took him into the Hibs box but his drive was blocked by Aaron Xuereb.

Valletta made it 1-1 close to the half-hour mark. Denni’s cross from a left-wing corner triggered a goalmouth scramble and Mifsud kept his cool to hit home from point blank.

The champions threatened to go ahead three minutes later but Edmond Agius’s drive from outside the box was tipped away for a corner by the alert Muscat.

It was all Valletta now. Hibs survived a dangerous situation as a long ball reached Mifsud outside the box.. Zongo was unmarked in the box but Mifsud opted to shoot only for his strike to roll wide of the far post.

Four minutes from half-time, Tarabai ran towards the box to latch on to Failla’s long cross but the Brazilian’s flick came off the on-rushing Andrew Hogg.

The Citizens went on the attack as the second half got underway. Mifsud volleyed wide after Edmond Agius’s free-kick was deflected into his path and Zongo drove wide after being released by Gilbert Agius.

Muscat then parried away a long-range effort from Barbosa as Valletta stayed on top.

Midway into the second half, Gilbert Agius produced a brilliant acrobatic volley but Muscat tipped the ball away for a corner.

The Hibs goalkeeper was prominent again when keeping out Zongo’s dangerous cross-shot. Denni was wide with a dipping flick and Mifsud headed wide from Zongo’s cross as Valletta retained the initiative.

Deep into stoppage time, a mistake by Steve Borg handed Hibs an opening. The Valletta defender put his body in front of Tarabai as the ball rolled into the box but the Brazilian outstmarted Borg only to be felled by Hogg.

Hibs shouted ‘penalty’ but to their evident disappointment, referee Mario Apap ordered a free-kick  just outside the box. Cohen’s free-kick was cleared away by Valletta.

Gilbert Agius was named BOV player of the match.


VALLETTA -  A. Hogg, R. Briffa, E. Agius (J. Pace), D. Dos Santos, J. Caruana, I. Azzopardi, O. Zongo (A. Effiong), S. Borg, W. Barbosa, G. Agius (D. Falzon), M. Mifsud.

HIBERNIANS -  M. Mascot, A. Cohen, E. Herrera, A. Xuereb, J. Vandelannoite, S. Pisani (J. Pearson), R. Soares, B. Kristensen, C. Failla, T. Caruana (P. Anizoba), E. Luis Dos Santos.

BOV Premier League
Date: 07-01-12     Time: 16:00    Venue: National Stadium

Scorers: 4' R. Soares, 30' M. Mifsud

Yellow Cards:  W. Barbosa, M. Muscat (H)

Man of Match: Gilbert Agius

Referee: Mario Apap