The Malta Independent 16 December 2019, Monday

BOV Premier League: Late Iriberri penalty strike earns Hibernians maximum points

Henry Brincat Sunday, 24 November 2019, 18:10 Last update: about 21 days ago
Photos: James Galea
Photos: James Galea

Hibernians      2
Balzan             1

Hibernians: M. Calleja Cremona, F. Apap, L. Da Silveira, J. Mbong, J. Grech (J. Degabriele 81), B. Kristensen, D. Vella, A. Izquier, A. Agius, L. Nanni (J. Wemmer 74), I. Iriberri (T. Groothusen 88)

Balzan: K. Naumovski, A. Loof, A. Kosoric, S. Pisani, S. Bezzina, M. Johnson, P. Fenech, U. Ljubomirac, S. Dimic (A. Effiong 73), A. Faria, A. Majdevac

Referee: Emm. Grech

Asst refs: M. Scerri, J. Spiteri

4th official: D. Agius

Scorers: I. Iriberri 8, 83 pen., S. Pisani 39

Yellow cards: U. Ljubomirac 35, B. Kristensen 68, K. Naumovski 82, P. Fenech 87

BOV Player of the match: Jake Grech

TMI Top 3: 1. J. Grech, 2. P. Fenech, 3, L. Nanni

Attendance: 1,034

An 83rd minute penalty strike by Inamol Iriberri gave Hibernans all the three points in a keenly contested match at the National Stadium.

Iriberri had given Hibernians the lead early in the first half, but Balzan equalised before the interval through Steve Pisani stunner. Iriberri then stepped up to coolly place the ball in the net seven minutes from time from a penalty. It proved to the winner.

The victory enabled Hibernians to move onto the 20-point mark, five points behind leaders Floriana, also relegating Gzira to 5th place though the Maroons have today's match against Senglea in hand.

Play was more or less balanced in the first half and the 1-1 result after the first 45 minutes was fair.

The Paolites tried to make the most of the advantageous situation - they took an early 8th minute lead - but Balzan tried hard to get back into the picture though they failed to test goalie Calleja Cremona seriously.

But then came that brilliant goal from Steve Pisani six minutes from the interval and that left it all square.

In the second half the match remained balanced but neither goalkeeper was seriously tested.

In the opening minutes, it was the Paolites who dictated play but they failed to make the most of at least one of two good scoring chances which came their way.

Balzan also had a good scoring opportunity, but they also failed to find the net again.

Instead it was the Paolites who claimed all the three points through a late penalty strike from Iriberri.

Before kick off, Hibernians presented captain Bjorn Kristensen with a special jersey and a bouquet of flowers to record his 300th match in the Premier League for the club.

Hibernians took the lead on 8 minutes. From a Jake Grech freekick. It was Imanol Iriberri who rose above friend and foe to head into the net.

In the 19th minute, Balzan replied with an Arthur Faria freekick which went just over the crossbar.

On 26 minutes, Michael Johnson almost committed an own goal when off an Iriberri cross, his clearance just missed the crossbar.

Balzan equalised on 39 minutes. Steven Pisani fired a great rising shot from about 25 metres which completely beat Hibs goalie Matthew Calleja Cremona.

Just before the interval Hibs threatened to take the lead again when off a Jake Grech cross, Ferdinando Apap saw his header going over the bar, though referee Grech whistled for a foul on goalkeeper Naumovski.

It is to be noted that the last 17 minutes were played under a very heavy downpour, but the match went on.

Soon after the start of the second balf, Grech received a good ball in the Balzan area, but goalie Naumovski rushed out of his charge to block his effort.

At the other end, it was a Calleja Cremona who saved Hibs' fort when he blocked a dangerous Andrija Majdevac incursion.

On 56 minutes, Balzan were lucky when a close range shot hit goalie Naumovski's body with the ball being cleared to corner. From the same kick, taken by Leonardo Nanni, an Andrei Agius header just missed the target.

In the 67th minute, Balzan were awarded an indirect freekick in the Hibs area, but Majdevac's effort hit the barrier and was eventually cleared.

In the 74th minute, substitute Alfred Effiong set Majdevac on the left. The latter bustled his way into the Hibs area, but his effort was easily controlled by Calleja Cremona.

On 80 minutes, Majdevac again weaved his way into the Hibs area, but his low shot was turned to corner by Calleja Cremona.

Hibernians again took the lead seven minutes from time when they were awarded a penalty, when substitute Ryan Scicluna floored Jens Wemmer in the area. From the spot-kick, Iriberri made no mistake.

In added time, substitute Jurgen Degabriele received a good ball from Groothusen, rounded the Balzan goalie but his final effort was bloc ked by Augustine Loof.

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