HIBERNIANS J. Haber-7, F. Apap-7, K. Shaw-6.5, G. Llerena-5 (46 R. Soares-6), Thaylor-6, J. Grech-6.5, B, Kristensen-6 (84 A. Agius), G. Mensah-5 (60 J. Degabriele-5), G. Artiles-5.5 ( 71 J Zerafa), Y. Muritala-4 (71 Jairo), A. Diakite-7.
FLORIANA G. Kitanov-5, A. Magri Overand-5, C. Rutjens, K. Reid-4, J. Ulises-6.5, O. Spiteri-6 (68 J. Scicluna), C. Zammit Lonardelli-5 (51 Z. Cassar-5), L. De Grazia–5 L. Trillo-5 (51 A. Ciolacu-), E. Callegari-6, J. Busuttil-5.5
Referee Slobodan Petrovic
Yellow cards Llerena, Callegari, Artiles, Apap, Arias, Degabriele,
Red card Christian Rutejns (Floriana) 79
BOV player of the match Jake Grech (Hibernians)
Hibernians’ status as the ‘dark horses’ for the Premier League title was confirmed yesterday as they moved into second place with a battling victory against Floriana.
Andrea Pisanu’s side survived a first-half onslaught from Gianluca Atzori’s side before they struck with a Jake Grech effort just before half-time.
Hibs’ new-found resilience was demonstrated as they held out to claim their second victory against Floriana inside five days after their penalty-shootout win in the Super Cup.
Floriana’s misery was complete ten minutes from time, when Christian Rutejns was shown the red card after a clash with Jurgen Degabriele.
Kemar Reid who came in for Mattia Veselji into the starting line-up could not unlock a resolute Hibs side that replaced their Cup hero Ibrahim Kone with Justin Haber between the goalposts, amongst other changes from the one that beat Floriana in the Super Cup last Thursday.
The Greens enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges with Jamaican striker Reid testing the former Floriana custodian with a low shot at his near post after 20 minutes.
Josè Ulises Arias’ crosses also caused panic in the Hibs box and Carlo Zammit Lonardelli almost profited on 21 minutes when he nipped in front of Kurt Shaw at the back post, but he could not make good contact with the ball.
A free-kick from Jan Busuttil in the 37th minute create another opportunity for Floriana but Haber was again up to the task with a smothering save.
Hibs rarely threatened unless they were able to smuggle the ball out to Jake Grech. The former Ħamrun midfielder had been a constant threat down Floriana’s right flank, so it was something of a surprise when just before half-time, the Greens failed to pick him up from a Bjorn Kristensen’s delivery. The midfielder exacted swift punishment with a sweet shot that flew behind Georgi Kitanov.
Floriana came back in the second half with substitute Andrei Ciolacu missing a good opportunity to equalise after good work from Arias.
Past the hour mark, Yunusa Muritala latched onto a long punt from the Hibs Goalkeeper. The Nigernian striker tried to lob the ball over the onrushing Kitanov, who blocked the ball with his heels.
On 79 minutes, Christian Rutejns became involved in a dispute with Jurgen Degabriele and, inexplicably, the Spaniard defender pushed the striker to the floor. After the fourth official Emanuel Grech informed referee Slobodan Petrovic of the incident, the referee was left with no choice but to send the defender off as Floriana finally ran out of steam.
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