Valletta Champions 2011-2012 Published on: 12-05-2012

A party atmosphere was supposed to prevail at the National Stadium as Valletta were to be officially crowned champions but Hibs, their main title rivals, cast a shadow over the Whites’ title party after beating them 2-1.

Only pride was at stake in this game as Valletta had long secured the title but Hibs were clearly not prepared to lie down.

Their brisk performance surprised Valletta in a highly-charged, combative match that was marred by some ugly scenes after the final whistle as scores of City fans invaded the pitch.

In the early stages of the game, Hibs showed a Valletta flag and this incensed Valletta supporters.

When the fame was over, City fans ran straight towards the section of the Millennium Stand occupied by the outnumbered but vocal Hibs supporters who reacted to the provocation by throwing objects at their rivals.

There were some tense moments as the sets of fans lunged towards the iron gate separating the stands from the pitch as the Hibs faithful made their way out but the police moved swiftly to push the fans back before order was restored.

The City fans, dressed in different costumes, had turned out in their thousands. Their spirits dipped at the final whistle but not for long as the sight of captain Gilbert Agius lifting the BOV Premier League trophy was greeted with a joyous roar with the celebrations continuing in the capital later this evening.

Inside the opening two minutes, Jonathan Caruana powered his way clear on the left before passing to Gilbert Agius whose central flick was easily saved by Mario Muscat, the Hibs goalkeeper.

Michael Mifsud had a good chance to put Valletta ahead as he came one-on-one with Muscat but skied his shot over the bar.

Hibs were not intimidated. It was not long before they began to put pressure on Valletta. Jackson Lima’s corner dropped dangerously in the City box but the Valletta defenders cleared the ball away for a corner.

The Paolites’ efforts produced a goal on 10 minutes when they were awarded a penalty after Steve Borg was deemed to have blocked Edward Herrera’s cross with his hands.

Clayton Failla made no mistake from the spot to raise the spirits of the few Hibs fans in the Millennium Stand.

Hibs were clearly intent on ruffling their rivals’ feathers but Valletta soon gained a timely tonic.

The game was 18 minutes old when Denni supplied a through-ball to Mifsud who sped through before sending a low shot past Muscat and the Valletta fans into ecstasy.

The match remained finely-poised. Marcelo Dias forced his way through but his shot was deflected away for a corner.

William Barbosa then hit one of his trademark screamers from the distance but Muscat pushed the ball away for a corner.

The two sides continued to tear into each other. Hibs’ defender Rodolfo Soares did well to create space for a shot outside the box but his rising shot was stopped by Hogg.

Three minutes from half-time, Ryan Camilleri sent in an excellent cross as Bjorn Kristensen timed his run into the box to perfection but the young midfielder scuffed his shot over the bar.

Muscat then repelled a curling drive from Denni but Valletta fluffed a golden chance to go ahead before half-time.

Gilbert Agius’s perfect pass dropped to the advancing Denni who had got behind the Hibs defenders.

The Brazilian ran into the box before releasing the unmarked Mifsud who looked certain to score only to send his shot wide in front of a gaping goal.

Three minutes into the second half, Mifsud had a great opportunity to make amends for his miss as the nippy striker sped past three defenders but his central effort was blocked by Muscat.

Cohen’s free-kick was high and, minutes later, Hogg kept out Jackson Lima’s swerving shot from another set-piece.

From the resultant corner, Lima’s cross was met by Kristensen whose header ended inches wide of the far post.

Hibs remained on the offensive.

Nine minutes into the second half, Cohen supplied a teasing cross that moved Mady Panandetiguiri to run into the advancing Tarabai. Referee Malcolm Spiteri pointed to the spot but Failla’s strike came off the base of a post.

Barbosa had a grounder saved by Muscat but it was Hibs who remained the better side. A minute past the hour, Hogg palmed away Jackson Lima’s free-kick.

In a counter-attack, Gilbert Agius delivered a raking pass to Mifsud who ran through but his well-hit volley was beaten away by Muscat.

On 66 minutes, Valletta captain Gilbert Agius received a standing ovation as he made way for Terrence Scerri.

With 20 minutes remaining, Denni roared clear on the counter but his chip brought an excellent save from Muscat.

Five minutes later, Hibs scored what proved to be the winning goal, Kristensten heading home from close range after connecting with a perfect cross from Cohen.

Valletta tried to hit back but their tame pressure was easily repelled by Hibs who had Luis Edison, a first-half substitute for Marcelo Dias, sent off after he earned a second yellow card for time-wasting in stoppage-time.

Muscat, the Hibs goalkeeper, was named BOV player of the match.

VALLETTA - A. Hogg, D. Dos Santos, J. Caruana, I. Azzopardi, S. Borg, G. Agius (T. Scerri), S. Panandetiguiri (A. Effiong),  W. Barbosa,  R. Briffa, E. Agius, M. Mifsud.

HIBERNIANS - M. Muscat, A. Cohen, E. Herrera, R. Camilleri (S. Pisani), R. Soares, C. Failla, J. Vandelannoite, J. Pearson, J. Lima, B. Kristensen, M. Diaz (E. Luis Dos Santos)

BOV Premier League
Date: 13-05-12     Time: 16:00    Venue: National Stadium

Scorers: 11' C. Failla, 19' M. Mifsud, 75' B. Kristensen.

Yellow Cards:  B. Kristensen, C. Failla, E. Luis Dos Santos, S. Panandetiguiri, R. Briffa.
Red Card: E. Luis Dos Santod
Man of Match: Mario Muscat (H)
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri