Holders Hibs too strong for Gudja
Gudja United 0
Holders Hibernians breezed into the quarter-finals of the U*Bet FA Trophy with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Gudja United.
Despite the clear-cut scoreline, the Paolities had to wait until the 45th minute before taking the lead against the Division One side.
But the highlight of the game came on 64 minutes when Jackson Lima scored a fine goal following Andrew Cohen’s back-heel pass to set Michael Woods’ men on their way to a quarter-final tie against Żebbuġ Rangers.
Woods, unwilling to give Gudja any encouragement, fielded a very strong side, with only Marcelo Dias and Mario Muscat dropping out as the Hibernians mentor gave second-choice Daniel Balzan and Jean Paul Farrugia a rare start.
As expected it was the Paolities who dictated matters early on but for all their possession they seemed to lack precision in front of goal.
On 27 minutes, Lima slipped a through-pass to Allan Kardeck who tested Gudja custodianMatthew Xerxen to the limit with a curling effort destined for the left corner but the goalkeeper stretched out his hands to claw the ball away.
Eight minutes later, Farrugia rose above the pack only to see his header finishing just wide.
Gudja put together an impressive move after 40 minutes when Keith Bonello did well to connect to Karl Azzopardi’s cross but the striker’s header sailed just over.
But the Yellows were stung just before half-time. Clayton Failla was the provider with an inviting cross from a corner and Kardeck glanced a powerful header past Xerxen.
On 58 minutes, Xerxen palmed away Cohen’s cross into the path of Farrugia who hit it first time but his effort was blocked by defender Josef Tonna.
Despite dominating possession, Hibernians continued to struggle to penetrate Gudja’ defence but Cohen saw to that by creating a brilliant goal.
On 64 minutes, the nippy midfielder’s clever back-heel carved open the Yellows defence and Lima sent a cute lob over the stranded Xerxen.
The holders were now in command and increased their lead three minutes later when Cohen’s perfect ball was headed in by Adrian Pulis.
Three goals up, Hibernians eased up and Ryan Sell drew a fine save from Balzan after 67 minutes.
Seven minutes later, the Hibs goalkeeper denied Gudja from a consolation goal when he did well to tip around the post a point-blank header by Kiril Aleskandrov.
Four minutes from time, Hibernians wrapped up the win when Cohen headed the ball in past Xerxen.
Gudja United: M. Xerxen, E. Bugeja, A. Abela, J. Tonna, R. Kovachev, G. Buttigieg, K. Azzopardi (79 G. Chircop), R. Sell, K. Bonello (61 P.P. Sammut), C. Anton (69 J.S. Mvambeme Mbita), K. Aleksandrov.
Hibernians: D. Balzan, A. Pulis (74 S. Chircop), R. Camilleri, R. Soares, A. Cohen, C. Failla, J.P. Farrugia (77 A. Azzopardi), J. Lima (71 S. Pisani), Z. Levnaic, B. Kristensen, A. Kardeck.
Referee: Kevin Azzopardi .
(Centenary Stadium) 18.00 Valletta vs Nadur; 20.00 Qormi vs Birkirkara. (Tedesco Stadium) 18.00 Balzan vs Gżira; 20.15 Lija vs Floriana.
(Gozo Stadium) 18.00 Sannat vs Rabat.