ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 4
Mashike 90, 90+
HIBERNIANS I. Kone-6, F. Apap-5, G. Llerna-5, Thaylor-5.5, J. Grech-5, J. Degabriele-6, B. Kristensen-5.5, A. Agius-5 (90 G. Mensah), G. Artiles-6 (82 J. Zerafa), Y. Muritala-5.5 (66 J. Murillas-5), A. Diakite-6.
ĦAMRUN SPARTANS H. Bonello-6.5 (66 S. Sultana-6), S. Borg-7, M. Guillaumier-6.5, E. Mashike-7 (90 S. Attard), J. Ailton-6.5 (80 Eder), R. Prsa-7, O. Bjelicic-6.5, J. Corbalan-6 (66 M. Sowe-6), Jonny-7 (80 L. Montebello), E. Marcelina-7, R. Camenzuli-6.
Referee Ishmael Barbara.
Yellow cards Llerna, Prsa, Marcelina.
BOV Player of the Match Emerson Marcelina
Ħamrun Spartans kickstarted their league campaign in style when they cruised past champions Hibernians at the National Stadium.
Two goals in the opening 20 minutes put the Spartans on their way as they outplayed the Paolites for long stretches of the match. However, their inability to take the chances that came their way almost cost them dearly when Jurgen Degabriele put Hibernians back in the match.
But the Spartans quickly recovered their poise and finally sealed the points with a well-taken brace from Elvis Mashike to secure an impressive victory.
Ħamrun Spartans were off to a storming start as inside the first five minutes they were already a goal ahead.
Steve Borg won a free-kick on the edge of the area and Roko Prsa’s delivery was met by Emerson Marcelina who headed the ball past a stranded Ibrahim Kone.
Hibs looked on the ropes and three minutes later from a quick transition Elvis Mashike found Jonny but the Brazilian was anticipated by Ferdinando Apap.
At the other end, Degabriele latched onto Kone’s clearance but his shot was pushed away by Bonello. From the ensuing corner, Artiles picked Andrei Agius who saw his header saved by Bonello.
Elvis Mashike was a very hardworking figure in the Spartans’ attack and on 20 minutes he played a key role as the team doubled their lead.
The forward dispossessed Ali Diakhite in mid-pitch and surged forward before picking up Jonny who beat Kone with a firm drive.
The woodwork denied the Spartans a third goal on 28 minutes.
In another counter-attack, Guillaumier put Dodo in space and the Cape Verde forward sped inside the area but saw his shot hit the bar with Kone beaten.
On 33 minutes, Jonny again sped towards the Hibs goal but instead of serving Mashike he went for goal but Kone was on hand to block.
Hibs should have pulled a goal back on 38 minutes when Jake Grech sped inside the area and served Degabriele who blasted the ball over.
A minute into the second half, Ryan Camenzuli could have all but wrapped up the points when he turned past Thaylor but he fired over with only Kone to beat.
Play stopped for several minutes on 55 minutes when Bonello, in an attempt to take a high ball, collided with Muritala with both players receiving treatment for several minutes. Muritala was stretchered off and replaced by while Steve Sultana came on for the Ħamrun goalkeeper.
Jonny should have killed off the Paolites on 71 minutes when in another quick break he shot just past the upright with only Kone to beat.
That turned out costly as Hibs pulled a goal back on 73 minutes when Degabriele beat Sultana from close in to reopen the match.
Eleven minutes from time, Ħamrun had another chance when Steve Borg was denied by Kone.
The woodwork denied Ħamrun again on 83 minutes when substitute Luke Montebello saw his shot hit the upright.
Ħamrun sealed the points in stoppage time when Eder put Mashike clear and the Spartans forward rounded Kone and put the ball into the net.
Mashike was not finished yet as two minutes from time Guillaumier found Mashike who fired home.