Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Late drama as Valletta down Hibs to keep title race open
Apr 6, 2017
Posted in:
General
Leagues
BOV Premier League
Fanzone

Valletta’s hopes of retaining the BOV Premier League title received a massive boost on Wednesday as the champions struck a late winner to beat leaders Hibernians 1-0 in a hard-fought encounter at the National Stadium.


Steve Borg’s last-gasp strike kept the title race wide open as Valletta, who needed to win to stay in the hunt, are now only two points behind Hibernians with five games remaining.

 

The fight for the championship is a three-way affair as Balzan are also hot on Hibs’ heels after their 3-1 victory over Gżira United took them on 57 points, level with Valletta in second place.

 

In the top-of-the-table clash, Valletta showed more attacking ambition than Hibernians but the game looked set to end goalless until Borg rammed his shot past Andrew Hogg following a goalmouth melee. The powerful defender spoiled his evening as, moments after his goal, he was sent off by referee Fyodor Zammit.

 

Midfielder Roderick Briffa, who made a positive impact after coming on for Uchenna Calistus on 65 minutes, believes that Valletta deserved to win.

 

“We had to fight very hard for the points but we deserved our win,” Briffa told www.mfa.com.mt.

 

“We were the better team on the pitch. Given our situation in the standings before the game, we knew that only a win would do for us.

 

“The coach and technical staff did their homework well. We pressed Hibernians from the start and our gameplan paid off in the end.”

 

Valletta pressed forward from the off as Hibernians initially looked content to sit back and operate with counter-attacks.

 

Hogg saved from Michael Mifsud and Maximiliano Velasco. Three minutes from half-time, Hibs lost Brazilian striker Jorginho to injury.

 

In the second half, Valletta continued where they left off the first.

 

Mifsud’s powerful effort was turned away by Hogg who denied Valletta again with two fine saves to stop dangerous shots from Leandro Aguirre and substitute Luke Montebello.

 

In a breakaway, Gilmar raced clear for Hibs but fired over from outside the box seven minutes from time.

 

Valletta’s pressure eventually yielded a winner in the dying stages thanks to Borg.

 

“The way the game was going, our hopes of getting a goal were diminishing with every passing minute but, given our unrelenting pressure, I believed we could score,” Briffa added.

 

“In the derby, we conceded a late equaliser but this time the roles were reversed as we grabbed a late winner.”

 

The Valletta players and fans are inevitably on a high after Wednesday’s win but Briffa urged caution.

 

“We have a better chance to win the title but it’s a tight race and Balzan are also back in it,” the Malta midfielder said.

 

“We have five games left and they are all do-or-die for us. This win has given us a big boost and the fans played a big role because their support was terrific but we need to keep our feet on the ground.”

 

ST ANDREWS ALMOST SAFE

In Wednesday’s opening game at the National Stadium, St Andrews beat Mosta 2-1 to all but secure their Premier League status.

 

St Andrews took the lead on 24 minutes when, from Ivan Paz’s cross, Kyrian Nwoko headed past Yenz Cini.

 

Mosta equalised 10 minutes later when Pedrinho converted a penalty after Kurt Magro was fouled by Karlo Kesinovic in the box.

 

The Saints scored their winner early in the second half when Dale Camilleri’s angled shot went in off the far post.
 

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