The Malta Independent 18 August 2019, Sunday

BOV Premier League: Valletta win 25th title after a historic penalty shoot-out

Chris Cassar Saturday, 4 May 2019, 19:41 Last update: about 5 months ago
Photos: Domenic Aquilina
Photos: Domenic Aquilina

Valletta-Hibernians     2-2
(Valletta won 4-2 on penalties)

Valletta: H. Bonello, J. Caruana (R. Camilleri 77'), S. Borg, S. Malano, K. Nwoko, J. Borg, E. Pena Beltre, R. Muscat (A. Monticelli 97'), M.A. Alba, B. Kaljevic (B. Gavrila 67'), M. Fontanella.

Hibernians: M. Jovicic, N. Radojevic (D. Abela 117'), M. Barbosa de Silveira (T. Tabone Desira 100'), J. Mbong, J. Grech, B. Kristensen (D. Vella 69'), I. Ntow, Y. Marcolino, M. Sahanek, A. Agius, T. Fonseca.


Referee: Malcolm Spiteri

Ass.referees: Roberto Vella, Duncan Sultana

Fourth official: Stefan Pace

Scorers: T. Marcolino 12', J. Caruana 59', M. Fontanella 98', M. Sahanek 119'.

Yellow cards: M.A. Alba, I. Ntow, R. Muscat,

Player of the match: Taylon Marcolin (Hibernians)

TMI Best Three: 1. E. Pena Beltre, 2. M. Fontanella, 3. T. Marcolino

Attendance: 9,544

History was made yesterday as for the first time in Maltese football a penalty shoot-off was necessary to hand Valletta their 25th title, thus joining neighbours and bitter rivals Floriana on the 25 mark.

It was a nail biting affair in front of over nine thousand spectators, the best so far this season, in a highly spectacular match.

Hibernians were the better team in the first 35 minutes taking a deserved lead against an unsettled Valletta side. Valletta started coming in the match in the final minutes of the first ahlf, and then dominated the second half for long stretches.

After obtaining the equaliser on the hour, Valletta continued to dictate but the game went to extr-time, the first ever in a league decider. Eight minutes in extra time Fontanella put the Citizens in front fot the first time in the game.

Valletta looked well in control even if they tired out, with Hibernians piling the obvious pressure. Valletta should have closed it with a third goal, but for the second successive Saturday Valletta lost grasp of the title when Sahanek scored a dramatic equaliser with 90 seconds to go.

The penalties had to decide and Hibernians missed two out of four, with Mario Fontanella scoring Valletta's fourth penalty to send Valletta in heaven.

The tension was high with two yellow cards, one on each side, inside the opening two minutes. Valletta were without the suspended Zerafa and Saleh with Ryan Camilleri injured, and with jean Borg and Bojan Kaljevic in the initial line-up.

The match could have had a twist after five minutes when Hibernians found the back of the net but the move was halted for a highly dubious offside position. But on twelve minutes Hibs broke the deadlock when Ntow did the running on the left and crossed towards Taylon Marcolino who headed home from close range.

Valletta were in difficulty now and on 19 minutes Hibernians missed a glorious chance when Marcolino pounced on a Malano blunder and passed towards Jake Grech whose effort from an ideal position was saved by Bonello.

Valletta's first attempt three minutes later with Nwoko testing Jovicic off an Alba cross. The same Alba missed a good opportunity some minutes later blasting over the bar an inviting cross from Fontanella.

On 27 minutes Bonello came to Valletta's rescue charging out of position to block Marcolino who was inadvertedly served by Steve Borg. Two minutes later again Bonello was on the alert to block an Ntow shot.

An Alba freekick on 34 minutes was easily saved by Jovicic and the same Alba missed a sitter for the Citizens two minutes from the break off a Malano cross from the right. In stoppage time Valletta missed another scoring opportunity with Nwoko failing to score from close range following a Malano freekick. Valletta continued to insist in the closing seconds with Jovicic saving off Fontanella.

Valletta started the second part were they left off in the first piling pressure on their opponents who however never lost their composure. On 52 minutes Jovicic saved a Kaljevic header.

Valletta's pressure yielded the desired effect on 59 minutes when they drew level. Off an Alba corner Jovicic brilliantly saved headers from Nwoko and malano, the ball came towards Kaljevic whose header hit the crossbar, and finally captain Caruana shot the ball home.

Valletta wanted more and substitute Bogdan Gavrila went close with a shot from the edge of the area. In another attack an Nwoko header passed the face of goal but there was no one to connect.

On 90 minutes a Rowen Muscat cross shot almost deceived Jovicic who managed to save into a corner.

At the start of extra time Valletta were forced to make their third change when Rowen Muscat limped off and was replaced by Monticelli, and sixty seconds later Valletta forged ahead when Mario Fontanella was put through by Nwoko, and after winning a tussle with Barbosa, sliced the ball home past Jovicic to the delight of the City fans. Valletta were now all over their opponents and a Gavrilla shot on the turn went inches wide.

In the last fifteen minutes of extra time Hibernians made a last ditch effort pushing the Citizens in their own area. On 113 minutes a Marcolino effort just missed the target as Valletta were ividently tiring out.

Three minutes from time Nwoko made an impressive run but his effort just missed the target and in an immediate counter break Hibernians saved the title when Sahanek, well served by Dunstan Vella, shot low into the net.

Penalties had to decide. Marco Sahanek sent his shot against the upright, and Alba drilled home to scre the first penalty. Jake Grech and malano scored the second round of shots with Fonseca and Gavrila scoring the third round of shots.

Taylon Marcolino's shot was saved by Bonello, and Mario Fontanella scored the decisive penalty to send the City clan in raptures for a final penalty shoot-out score of 4-2.

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