Degabriele 28; Vella 71; Raphael 90
I.Kone-6.5; F. Apap-6.5, L. Almeida-6.5, J. Grech-6 (81 W. Domoraud), J. Degabriele-7 (81 R. Dos Anjos), D. Vella-7, Z. Grech-6, Thaylor-6 (88 H. Vieira), A. Agius-6.5, G. Artiles-6.5, A. Diakite-6.5.
A.Sylla-6.5; E. Ruiz-6.5, E. Pepe-6.5, C. Bonnani-6 (78 Y. Yankam), K. Zammit-6.5, F. Falcone-6 (69 B. Ngissah), R. Scicluna-6.5 (88 N. Cross), L. Aguirre-6, K. Bevis-5 (78 L. Montebello), Jeferson-5 (88 J. Valletta), D. Venancio-6.5.
Referee Malcolm Spiteri.
Yellow cards Thaylor, Apap, Yankam.
BOV Player of the Match Dunstan Vella (Hibernians).
Hibernians are the new Malta champions after their 3-1 victory over Birkirkara at the National Stadium.
The Paolites needed at least a point against Birkirkara to clinch their 13th domestic title.
Birkirkara stunned the Paolites when Federico Falcone put the Stripes ahead early in the first half. However, prolific forward Jurgen Degabriele restored parity soon after.
After the break, Birkirkara enjoyed more possession but it was Hibs who went on to clinch the points when Dunstan Vella completed the comeback before substitute Raphael wrapped up the points in stoppage time as the Paolites capped what has been a dominant campaign.
For coach Stefano Sanderra, this is his first piece of silverware at the helm of Hibernians.
Degabriele’s goal for Hibernians was his 14th of the season as he sits one goal behind league’s leading scorer Maxuell.
Birkirkara, on their part, remain in fourth on 41 points. However, their European hopes are far from over as they trail third-placed Ħamrun Spartans by just one point. Both teams will face each other next week, in the final game of the season.
Hibernians were looking to take control of the game from the start with Jurgen Degabriele letting fly a curling effort that glanced past Amara Sylla’s goal.
However, it was Birkirkara who opened the score against the run of play.
Ryan Scicluna darted towards the penalty box before the Hibernians backline tried to clear the danger.
Nonetheless, Birkirkara forward Federico Falcone pounced on a loose ball and from close-range beat Ibrahim Kone.
The Argentine striker could have even doubled the score immediately after but failed to capitalise from inside the penalty area.
Falcone’s goal came as a cold shower for the Paolites as it was Birkirkara who continued to create the chances.
Brazilian midfielder Diego Venancio hit a curling effort that was blocked by Kone before Claudio Bonnani saw his long-range drive blocked by the Guinean goalkeeper.
At the first time of asking, though, Hibernians did level matters.
Thaylor and Degabriele beat Birkirkara’s offside trap with Spaniard providing the assist to the Malta international who had the simplest of tasks of pushing the ball into an empty net.
Leandro Aguirre tried his luck from a free-kick but sent his effort wide as the first half ended with both teams on level terms.
Venancio had a shot on goal deflected into corner and Falcone could not hit the target from inside the penalty area as Birkirkara came out all guns blazing after the interval.
At the other end, Sylla came to Birkirkara’s rescue when he kept Degabriele at bay.
The Birkirkara goalkeeper had to block another Degabriele shot again as Hibernians started to pile up the pressure.
The Paolites completed the turnaround when Dunstan Vella met a Leandro Almeida’s looping header and guided it past Sylla to the delight of the Hibernians clan.
In the closing stages, Raphael Dos Anjos wrapped up Hibernians’ win with a well-engineered counterattack to capitalise into an empty net after goalkeeper Sylla had joined his team-mates in attack during a corner kick situation.
Seconds later referee Malcolm Spiteri blew the final whistle as the Paolites players, officials and fans kickstarted their celebration for what was a well deserved title.
LAST 10 CHAMPIONS
2021 Ħamrun Spartans