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Apap strike lifts Hibernians past improved Żebbuġ Rangers

HIBERNIANS 1

Apap 58

ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS 0

HIBERNIANS

J. Haber-7, F. Apap-7, J. Grech-6, J. Degabriele-7 (82 G. Mensah), B. Kristensen-6 (77 A. Agius), D. Vella-6, Z. Grech-5 (46 Thaylor-5), J. Zerafa-5 (46 G. Artiles-5), O. Muritala-6 (77 J. Morillas), A. Diakete-6, R. Soares-6.

ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS

M. Chetcuti-6, S. Bugeja-6, L. Almeida-6, T. Bartolo-5.5, A. Mizzi (30 S. Miloskovic-5), S. Jankovic-6.5, C. Ngoy-6, E. Sanchez-4 (65 Y. Tonna-6), R. Vella-5, A. de Jesus Soto-5, K. Bondin-5.

Referee: Stefan Pace.

Yellow cards: Almeida, Zerafa, Artiles, Diakete, Jankovic.

BOV player of the match: Jurgen Degabriele (Hibernians).

Defender Ferdinando Apap scored the winner for champions Hibernians as they secured a second consecutive win for the first time this season when they overcame an improved Żebbuġ side.

Apap slotted in from point-black range when Jake Grech’s cross fell into his path midway through the second half.

For all the talk about removing all restrictions on foreign players in the Premier League, it was refreshing to note that for the second time running, nine players in the Hibernians’ starting line-up against Żebbuġ Rangers were Maltese.

Andrea Pisanu has inherited a strong squad from Stefano Sanderra and has kept faith with the Maltese players who form the backbone of the squad.

Before the match, Jurgen Degabriele received with a commemorative shirt for his 200 official match played with Hibernians.

Hibernians only created half chances in the first half and the game was enlivened four minutes from half-time when Stefan Jankovic’s skill illuminated an increasingly drab game as he drew a good save from Justin Haber.

Stanimir Miloskovic pounced on the rebound only to see Owolabi Muritala hook off his effort.

Hibernians knew the three points were there to be won, so at half-time, Pisanu brought in Thaylor and Gabriel Artiles, two flying wing backs to put Żebbuġ under huge pressure aftet the break.

On 57 minutes, Hibernians put a fine move together, Degabriele started the attack with a marvellous long pass to Jake Grech who dummied a pass into the Żebbug box for Apap to prod the ball home.

After 70 minutes, Dunstan Vella timed his run to perfection and head Degabriele’s cross wide of Miguel Chetcuti’s far post.

Jankovic was again probing, finding a way through with a lovely run but he shot wide and high.

Four minutes from time, Jairo Morillas’s throughball invited Gabriel Mensah to have a go but the Ghanaian striker saw his goalbound effort blocked by Chetcuti.

Grech almost added to the hosts’ lead but the one goal buffer was enough as Hibernians secured a second consecutive win.

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