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Nail-biting finale as Hibs land title

Hibs were crowned champions after beating Valletta 4-3 on April 23, 1994 in a dramatic finale.

Hibs were crowned champions after beating Valletta 4-3 on April 23, 1994 in a dramatic finale.

In 1993-94, after a lapse of 12 years, Hibs finally won the championship in one of the toughest league campaigns in the history of Maltese football.

Hibs battled it out with Floriana and Valletta in a drama-packed campaign. Brain Talbot's tactical approach and experience seemed to work magic for Hibs throughout the season.

Hibs made it clear from the start that their main objective was the championship crown. The potential was there and the determination to succeed was confirmed by their bold reaction to occasional setbacks.

With players of the class of George Lawrence, Karl Zacchau, Robert Docherty, Charlie Scerri, Alan Mifsud, Michael Woods, Lawrence Attard, Edwin Camilleri, David Carabott, Michael Taliana and Michael Woods, Hibs had to be considered as one of the best teams in the Premier.

Add to these players upcoming youngsters like Mario Muscat, Darren Attard, Wilfred Spiteri and Kenneth Abela and Hibs had the credentials of a successful team.

They were chased all the way by then champions Floriana and Valletta. This led to a most thrilling finale to the league campaign but Hibs stood their ground, winning the direct encounters against the other title aspirants.

Their best days were April 16, 1994 when they beat Floriana 3-1 with goals from Zacchau, Lawrence, and Mifsud and the final direct encounter against Valletta. Hibs came from behind to win an electrifying match 4-3 and secure their title.

Valletta looked slightly sharper in the first period. Only a win would do for them and this resulted in an entertaining contest, worthy of a league championship finale.

Valletta took the lead after only 18 minutes. Their defender Jeffrey Chetcuti won possession in his own half, advanced down the left and unleashed a powerful shot in the top corner of the Hibs' goal.

Five minutes later Hibs were lucky not to concede a second. Put through by Gilbert Agius, Valletta forward Joe Zarb sent a diagonal shot which missed the target by a whisker.

Valletta, however, were soon two goals to the good. Hibs' goalkeeper Muscat rushed out to punch but lost the ball, leaving Zarb to head in his 15th goal of the season.

Valletta looked in command but Hibs refused to roll over. On the stroke of half-time, Docherty's corner caused panic in Valletta's crowded area and Lawrence made the best of the situation.

After the restart, Valletta went in search of a killer goal but Hibs withstood the pressure. Then, on the hour mark, Valletta goalkeeper Janjus failed to intercept a cross and the ball fell to Carabott who lobbed it into the net from just outside the penalty area.

The drama was not over yet. A misplaced Carabott pass was collected by Agius who crossed over to Jason Kabia to deflect past the stranded Hibs' keeper. This goal would have killed every other team but Hibs kept trying and punished Valletta with two late goals by Zacchau and Taliana to win the match and the championship.

The scenes of joy at the end of the match are still imprinted in the minds of the Hibs fans as their players collected the league trophy and paraded it from Ta' Qali though the crowded streets of Paola.

It is always a thrilling experience to win the title but it becomes even so when the title is won with virtually the last kick of the competition.

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