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Malta

Leaders Floriana held by Hibernians

FLORIANA            2

Camenzuli 43; Keqi 67pen

HIBERNIANS           2

Kristensen 9; Grech 76

Leaders Floriana preserved their four-point lead at the top of the standings after sharing four goals with Hibernians yesterday.

A win for either of side would have provided a massive boost for their title hopes.

The draw will have annoyed most the Hibs clan as a win would have put the Paolites back into contention.

On their part, the Greens remained unbeaten but they will too might feel they have lost their chance of further extended

their lead at the top following Sirens’ surprise win over Gżira United.

With only nine minutes on the clock, Hibernians opened the scoring with their first attack of the match.

Leonardo Nanni collected a through-ball by Dunstan Vella and his cross flashed along the six-yard line, providing the opportunity for Bjorn Kristensen to sidefoot the ball home.

However, Floriana soon began to take control of the match after weathering some tenacious Hibs tackling. Andre Agius sent Kristian Keqi crashing to the ground to end Floriana’s first foray towards the Hibs penalty area. The free-kick was awarded in perfect Diego Venancio’s territory. However, the Brazilin’s sweetly-struck effort was blocked by Marko Jovicic.

Soon after, Brandon Paiber had a rising shot blocked by Jovicic. The Greens were soon into their stride and equalised two minutes from half-time.

It was a trademark Greens goal, Keqi breaking from inside his own half before feeding the overlapping Ryan Camenzuli, who cut inside between Timothy Tabone Desira and Joseph Mbong. The former Birkirkara winger left himself almost no margin of error in getting the ball between the goalkeeper and the goalpost to strike from angled position.

Keqi’s work on the wings stood out for Floriana. It was the striker’s shot that created the first opportunity after the break, his in-swinging cross drawing Jovicic out of position but the ball finished wide.

Hibernians threatened to hurt their opponents on the counter as the sprinting Mbong lunged forward to edge the ball just wide off Akpan’s far post.

Jake Grech almost gave Hibs the lead when his curling shot took a fortuitous double deflection before finishing into a corner.

But Matias Garcia, a peripheral character after the break, spearheaded Floriana’s lead after 67 minutes. The Argentine midfielder set up Keqi with the outside of his boot, but the Albanian-born forward was floored by Dunstan Vella’s sliding tackle.

Keqi picked himself up to send Jovicic the wrong way from the penalty spot.

It was looking very ominous for Hibernians, but Kristensen and Jake Grech combined well to draw the Paolites level.

Kristensen was the creator with a great run on the left flank and a superb pass that let in Grech who beat Akpan with a powerful finish.

Two minutes from time, Jurgen Degabriele marked his long-awaited comeback from injury when he replaced Leonardo Nanni.

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