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Hibs open four-point lead with two games left

Hibernians midfielder Dunstan Vella moves the ball away from Gudja United players. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

GUDJA UNITED                0

HIBERNIANS                    2

Apap 60

Vella 85

GUDJA UNITED G. Zammit-6.5; T. Nagamatsu-6, M. Muchardi-6, R. Soares-6.5, L. Cremona-6 (81 G. Nikabadze), J. Arthur-6, H. Vella-6 (70 N. Dzalamidze), N. Tabone-6 (70 A. Friggieri), N. Micallef-6, J. Bolanos-6, J. Grioli (29 K. Gatt-6).

HIBERNIANS I.Kone-6; F. Apap-7, L. Almeida-7, J. Grech-7, J. Degabriele-6.5 (83 A. Muniz), D. Vella-7.5, Thaylor- (82 Z. Grech), A. Agius-7, G. Artiles-7.5, A. Diakite-6.5, H. Vieira-6 (61 W. Domoraud).

Referee Emanuel Grech.

Yellow cards Thaylor, Tabone, Zammit. Arthur.

BOV Player of the Match Ferdinando Apap (Hibernians).

Hibernians have moved within touching distance of becoming Maltese champions after beating Gudja United thanks to goals from from Ferdinando Apap and Dunstan Vella.

Stefano Sanderra’s side have now opened a four-point lead above Floriana with two games left.

Hibernians can already clinch the title next weekend should Floriana lose to Ħamrun Spartans or they defeat Birkirkara, next Sunday.

The Paolites were the better team throughout the game and could have scored more than two goals should they have been more clinical in front of goal.

Nonetheless, a goal in each half earned Hibernians their 14th victory in a campaign which saw them arguably dominating from start to finish.

Hibernians created more chances in the opening half and midfielder Dunstan Vella had the first opportunity of the game with a long-range shot which went wide past Gudja’s goal.

Moments later, Gudja replied through Llywelyn Cremona whose effort was not enough to threaten Hibernians.

Hibs forward Jurgen Degabriele met a Gabriel Artiles freekick but could not find the target before the Spaniard struck the crossbar with a well-struck inswinger.

Gudja’s coach Thane Micallef was forced to replace defender Justin Grioli early in the game after he had the worst in a head clash with Hibernians defender Ferdinando Apap.

Before half-time, Gudja had another effort through Cremona whose shot glanced past Ibrahim Kone’s goal.

On the other hand, Hibernians had two golden opportunities when Thaylor fired over the bar from close-range before Hugo Vieira saw his header blocked by Glenn Zammit on the goal line.

Hibernians came out from the dressing all guns blazing with Vella firing a low drive from a tight angle just to be denied by Zammit.

Nonetheless, the Gudja goalkeeper was beaten on the hour mark when Apap guided a Thaylor’s cross towards goal with the ball slipping between Zammit’s hands.

In the 67th minute, Hibernians missed a flurry of three quick chances. Vella had a curling effort hit the crossbar before Thaylor’s rebound was blocked by Zammit. The ball was picked up by Degabriele but his strike from point-blank range was cleared on the goal line by Rodolfo Soares.

Hibernians made sure of the win through Vella who after hitting the crossbar early in the second half, he made up for it with his third goal of the season.

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