Hibernians beat Balzan 5-1 at the Hibernians Stadium. With this win Hibernians joined Valletta on top the BOV Premier League table with 58 points and a Championship Decider is necessary to determine which way the title will go, while Balzan finished their campaign in sixth place.
Balzan, still in contention for the fourth place in order to have a chance of playing in the Europa League, started this game on the offence but Hibernians proved to be the better side, especially in the second half were they overwhelmed a demotivated Balzan side.
Hibernians had a good start and on the 11th minute they went close when an effort by Taylon Nico Marcolino finished over the bar.
In the 20th minute Hibernians broke the deadlock when Marco Sahanek set JAKE GRECH through who in turn finished the ball low into the net.
Balzan reacted and immediately they had their first attempt at goal. Ricardo Calixto Correa Duarte passed towards Alfred Effiong who missed an easy chance hitting wide from an ideal position.
Half way through the first half Hibernians were forced to make a substitution when Marcelo Dias limped off and was replaced by Bjorn Kristensen.
On the half hour Balzan almost drew level but goalkeeper Marko Jovicic was on the alert to save, with difficulty, an attempt by Ricardo Correa.
In the 36th minute a shot by Marco Sahanek shot, deflected by Serrano Valero, almost deceived goalkeeper Sean Mintoff.
A minute into the second half Hibernians doubled the score when a back-pass by Ricardo Correa caught Elkin Serrano Valero on the wrong foot. TIAGO ADAN FONSECA took advantage of this mistake and fired low into the net.
On the hour Balzan almost pulled one back. Following a cross by Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes (Kadu), Alfred Effiong’s header just missed the target.
Four minutes later Hibernians sealed the issue with a third goal when following a careless clearance, TAYLON NICO MARCOLINO managed to beat Sean Mintoff with a dipper, from an ideal position.
In the 68th minute Balzan pulled one back. During a melee in front of the Hibernians goal UROS LJUBOMIRAC’s powerful shot finished at the back of the net.
But sixty seconds later Balzan finished laying with ten men when Elkin Serrano Valero was shown a straight red card for an infringement he committed.
Hibernians took advantage of their numerical superiority and took full control of the game and in the remaining minutes they managed to score another two more goals.
In the 77th minute, following a cross by Isaac Toah Ntow, TAYLON NICO MARCOLINO headed home.
Three minutes later, Marco Sahanek sent an inviting pass to TAYLON NICO MARCOLINO who scored with relative ease, notching his hat trick.
There was a nervous wait from the Hibernians supporters for the final whistle but when the news that the game Valletta vs Ħamrun finished in a draw reached the Corradino Stadium, the celebrations started.
Balzan have now to focus on the FA Trophy, but need to improve considerably, if they want to make an impact.
HIBERNIANS : Marko Jovicic, Dunstan Vella, Marcio Barbosa da Silveira, Joseph Mbong, Jake Grech (David Xuereb 80′), Marcelo Dias (Bjorn Kristensen 23′), Isaac Ntow (Timothy Tabone Desira 82′), Taylon Nicolas Correa Marcolino, Marco Sahanek, Andrei Agius, Tiago Adan Fonseca.
BALZAN : Sean Mintoff, Justin Grioli, Nenad Sljivic, Steve Pisani, Paul Fenech (Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes 58′), Alfred Effiong, Uros Ljubomirac, Elkin Serrano Valero, Ricardo Calixto Correa Duarte (Steve Bezzina 78′), Andrija Majdevac, Milos Lepovic (Sean Cipriott 71′).
Referee: Mario Apap
BOV Player of the Match : Jake Grech