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Hibs prevail over Pieta Hotspurs in rain-hit match

Pieta' Hotspurs' Samuel Okoh tries to hold the ball against Hibernians in the pouring rain. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

HIBERNIANS   2

Muritala 17, 43

PIETÁ HOTSPURS          1

Leonardi 80

HIBERNIANS   I. Kone-6, F. Apap-6, K. Shaw-6, Thaylor-6.5, J. Grech-7 (63 B. Kristensen), J. Degabriele-6.5, D. Vella, G. Artiles-6 (63 J. Zerafa), Y. Muritala, A. Diakite, R. Soares.

PIETÁ HOTSPURS S. Alampasu-5, C. Bangura-5, O. Temitope-6 (69 P. Lapira), D. Zerafa-6, J. Ghio-5 (64 Y. Morita), T. Agius-5 (46 K. Leonardi-7), A. Schembri Wismayer-5 (46 S. Okoh-6), Z. Leonardi-6, G. Ogungbe-6, S. Camara-5 (46 L. Amadu-6), T. Yamaguchi-6.

Referee Daniel Casha.

Yellow card Zerafa.

BOV Player of the match Yunusa Muritala (Hibernians).

Two goals from Yunusa Muritala enabled Hibernians to see off Pieta Hotspurs in a match that was severely hampered by the heavy rainfall that fell on the Tony Bezzina Stadium in the second half.

Hibernians failed to set any houses on fire but were the more clinical side in the opening 45 minutes with Muritala grabbing a well-taken brace that put his side firmly in the driving seat.

But conditions changed considerably at half-time as the rain started to fall heavily onto the pitch making conditions very difficult for the players, as the ball barely moved in large parts of the pitch.

Referee Daniel Casha decided to continue the match despite the wet conditions.

The Hotspurs still battled valiantly but could only manage to pull a goal back late on as the Malta champions held on for the win.

As expected, Hibernians dominated play in the opening stages but failed to create any danger to Sunday Alampasu, the Pieta goalkeeper.

Instead, it was the Hotspurs who almost struck on 13 minutes, when from a long throw-in the ball fell into the path of Zean Leonardi who failed to connect in front of Ibrahim Kone and Ferdinando Apap booted the ball away.

Hibs responded in style on 17 minutes when Yunusa Muritala connected to Jurgen Degabriele’s free-kick and his dipping header beat Alampasu.

The goal failed to spur the match into life as scrappy play was the order of the day with scoring chances a rarity.

Eleven minutes from the break, Jake Grech’s cross was deflected into the path of Degabriele who fired over.

Hibernians grabbed a second goal two minutes from the break, when in a swift raid, Grech’s throughball put Muritala clear and the Nigerian kept his poise to drill the ball past Alampasu.

During the half-time interval, heavy rain fell on the pitch making conditions very difficult.

In fact, the wet conditions denied the Paolites of a third goal on 47 minutes when Alampasu charged out of his goal to intercept Degabriele, the ball fell to Muritala who saw his low shot stopped by the wet surface and Atanda Ogungbe cleared.

Conditions were deteriorating as the minutes passed with the ball barely moving in large parts of the pitch.

Pieta almost pulled a goal back on 70 minutes when Yuto Morita somehow managed to push the ball inside the area before hitting a low drive that just missed the upright. Pieta’s efforts were rewarded on 80 minutes when substitute Kian Leonardi stormed inside the area and fired the ball past Kone.

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