STA, 16 May 2019 - Maribor have secured their 15th national football championship three rounds before the end of the season with a 3:1 win in Celje on Wednesday.
After blowing the chance of locking up the title last Saturday at home against the rivals Olimpija Ljubljana, Maribor were far more determined last evening in Celje.
The seventh national championship title for the club from Slovenia's second city in the last nine seasons was secured in the last ten minutes with goals by Jan Mlakar and Dino Hotić.
The win was coupled with Olimpija, the defending champions, losing at home to Domžale to fall eleven points behind Maribor three rounds to go.
Olimpija has been the fiercest rival to Maribor this season, but too much turmoil within the club has not allowed the rivalry to be close although Olimpija has maintained its second place in the rankings since the 8th round.
Maribor have meanwhile kept the first place in the standings since the second round, coming out of the gates in the first five matches by scoring as many as 19 goals.
The club has also remained at the top in terms of goals scored, while the defence headlined by goalie Kenan Pirić allowed a season-leading 29 goals so far, six goals fewer than the closest opponent in this department, Mura.
Maribor, the only Slovenian club to have played in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, have been dominant lately, with Olimpija being the only other title winner in the last nine years, in the 2015/16 and 2017/18 seasons.
Commenting on the feat, Maribor head coach Darko Milanič said the club had been very dominant this season, and praised the players as well as the fans for "their unbelievable support".
"We're working hard, we've deserved the championship, and I'm very proud of the team. I enjoy sitting on this bench, as many good things are happening," he added.
Sport director Zlatko Zahovič is happy that Maribor have managed to defeat the financially stronger Olimpija. "When the opponent functions only with money, it is hard to play against it."
Maribor will have the opportunity to win the double title as they play Olimpija in the national cup final at the end of the month.