Hibernians maintained their momentum with a 4-1 rout of Gudja United to keep up the pressure on fellow title challengers Ħamrun Spartans.
The Paolites have now moved to 36 points after 17 outings following a formidable performance that put light on their collective strength.
Stefano Sanderra’s side had newcomer Raphael Dos Anjos in the starting line-up, marshalling the back line.
Gudja, on their part, remain eighth on 23 points as they succumbed to their sixth defeat of the season.
Hibernians dominated proceedings in the opening 45 minutes, but they could not make their pressure count as Gudja’s resilience kept them at bay.
The Paolites threatened on nine minutes when Gabriel Artiles hit a long-range free-kick which hit the crossbar after Glenn Zammit managed to get a hand on it.
Midfielder Jake Grech attempted a shot from the edge of the area but failed to hit the target, with Jurgen Degabriele having the same luck moments later with another long-range effort.
Gudja remained compact and closed all passing channels but they were almost surprised when Degabriele found himself unmarked on the second post just to head the ball straight into the hands of Zammit, five minutes from the break.
Hibernians remained in control but at half-time, Jesmond Zammit’s team managed to preserve the clean sheet.
Nonetheless, Hibernians struck instantly at the restart when after a well-engineered move that included a number of one touches between the Paolites players, Degabriele whipped in a cross into the box on which Dunstan Vella capitalised to score his second straight goal.
Hibernians doubled their lead when Grech was floored inside the area by Goran Adamovic and the Malta international converted from the spot for his 10th goal of the season.
Grech orchestrated Hibernians’ third goal with his sixth assist of the campaign, setting up Degabriele for his goal of the evening and his eigth of the campaign.
Gudja’s first real chance came on 70 minutes when Aidan Friggieri let fly a strike which forced Matthew Calleja Cremona into action.
Coach Zammit deployed forward Vagner on his second appearance since joinjing from Tarxien Rainbows, but Hibernians remained the better side.
Substiture Jose Wilkson Teixeira could have extended further Hibernians’ lead but from close-range, he fired over.
Late in the game, Degabriele scored his second goal of the game after slotting into empty net following a short clearance by Zammit.
In the closing stages, Elton Silva grabbed his first goal for Gudja after joining from Victoria Hotspurs but that little mattered as Hibs cruised to a comfortable victory.
Referee: Slobodan Petrovic
Assistant Referees: Luke Portelli, Christopher Francalanza
Fourth Official: Daniel Portelli
JAKE GRECH (H)
BOV PLAYER OF THE MATCH