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Marsaxlokk punish Hibernians to move closer to salvation

HIBERNIANS 1

Muritala 90

MARSAXLOKK 3

Attard 18, 36; Moracci 84

HIBERNIANS

M. Jovicic-5, F. Apap-6, Thaylor-5 (46 J. Florencio-5), J. Grech-5, J. Degabriele-5.5 (61G. Mensah-5), B. Kristensen-5 (88 A. Borg), D. Vella-5 (46 A. Diakite-6), Z. Grech-5, J. Zerafa-5 (74 M. Ellul), A. Agius-5, Y. Muritala-6.

MARSAXLOKK

M. Gamonal-6, A. Attard-7 (70 T. Vella), K. Keqi-6, C. Bonanni-6, P. Xuereb-6 (85 C. Edafe), A. Ferraris-6.5 (78 V. Sanago), J. Aguilar-6, L. Aguirre-7, R. Scicluna-6, F. Moracci-6.5, D. Vukovic-6.

Referee: Ishmael Barbara

Yellow cards: Gamonal, Vukovic.

BOV player of the match: Ayrton Attard (Marsaxlokk)

Ayrton Attard struck twice as Marsaxlokk outplayed Hibs to move within two points of salvation.

Attard scored almost two identical goals against his former club as the Southseasiders took control of the match in the first half.

Marsaxlokk, who eliminated Hibernians from the FA Trophy two weeks ago, continued to dominate, scoring a deserved third with Hibs’ only reply coming late in the match.

Peter Xuereb was again detailed to provide cover to the defence with Ayrton Attard at the tip of Marsaxlokk’s diamond-shaped midfield.

On the other side, Zachary Grech was deployed in an unfamiliar central-half role alongside Andrei Agius and Ferdinand Apap as Hibernians were lined up with a three-man defence. 

Leandro Aguirre had served notice of Marsaxlokk’s intentions inside the first 10 minutes when the Argentine winger curled a shot against Marko Jovicic’s post.

And eight minutes later, Marsaxlokk opened the scoring as Ryan Scicluna crossed from a corner to the far post where the unmarked Attard profited from some lax marking to apply a first-time finish. Attard did not celebrate his goal against his former club.   

Nine minutes from the interval and, again Hibernians only had themselves to blame following poor defensive work. The modus operandi  was the same when Attard scored his second goal following a short corner by Aguirre that beat the hapless Jovicic.

The Southseasiders could have made it 3-0 just before half-time as Hibernians struggled once again to defend a corner. Adrian Ferraris Santiago hit a swerving shot that flashed across the face of goal from another short corner.

 Hibs’ lacklustre first-half showing seemed to irk their coach Silvio Vella as he made a double substitution with Ali Diakete and Joao Vitor Florencio brought in for Dunstan Vella and Thaylor respectively.

And the Paolites came out with a real sense of purpose on the resumption.

But on the hour mark, Hibs’ hopes of revival were crushed when Jurgen Degabriele pulled out with a hamstring injury.

Marsaxlokk were rarely troubled and Aguirre hit the woodwork for a second time when the Argentine winger dragged his side forward after 63 minutes.

The southseasiders then sealed the points when Fabian Moracci intercepted a poor throw in from Hibernians and the forward hit a curling drive that gave no chance to Jovicic.

Owolabi Muritala reduced the deficit in added time but this was of little consolation to the Paolites.

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