Hibernians send Champions crushing to second defeat
Hibernians 2 – 1 Valletta
The Hibs were able to pick things up after an uneventful first half of the match, and left Valletta defeated for the second time this season. Valletta took the lead in the second period, but not for long as the Hibernians secured two late goals.
Valletta have had an uphill battle so far on their quest to defend their championship title. While they have shown some improvement, it was not enough against the Hibernians last yesterday.
They had more possession of the ball, but they did not follow through with several of their scoring opportunities to score a second goal. Valletta lost most of their solidity at the back, which was the opposite of their approach last season.
Coach Danilo Doncic seemed to have little or no options, with several inexperienced youngsters yesterday on the bench.
Meanwhile, Hibernians showed that they will surely be one of the front-runners this season after last year’s disappointment.
As it happened:
The Hibernians came in strong. Just after 13 minutes, Ivan Blazevic went in with a corner from the left, but Joseph Mbong’s low shot was blocked by goalkeeper Henry Bonello. Valletta replied with a Matteo Piciollo effort from outside the area that was neutralised by Hogg.
It was only until half-time came and went that things began to heat up, Pena Beltre sent an inviting pass for Mario Fontanella who failed to connect from close range. Just seconds after, Valletta goalkeeper Henry Bonello turned Joseph Mbong’s effort into a corner.
Blazevic entered the area before having a shot partially saved by Bonello, Dunstan Vella took the rebound but hit wide. Valletta had some bad luck 11 minutes into the second half, as a cross by Joseph Zerafa to Gavrilla resulted in the ball hitting the crossbar.
However a minute later, they redeemed themselves as Alba took a short clearance by the Paolites’ defense and beat Hogg with a rising shot from outside the area. The Citizens went close once again on 73 minutes from an Alba free-kick from which Piciollo’s header was partially saved by Hogg and Fontanella hit wide off the rebound.
Moments after, Fontanella had an angled shot from the right blocked by Hogg and Piciollo’s effort off the rebound was deflected into a corner.
Valletta paid dearly for their missed chances during the 79th minute.
Substitute Correa, who had replaced Tiago Fonseca, intercepted a header by Steve Borg and secured a goal. Operating on counter-attacks, Hibs threatened once again with a low shot by Joseph Mbong from the right but it was blocked by Bonello.
Jurgen Degabriele’s powerful shot from outside the area was partially saved by Bonello and off the rebound, Andrei Agius gave the Hibernians their winning shot.