Day 26 Valletta 1 Balzan 0
Champions Valletta threw the Premier League title issue wide open after beating high-flying Balzan 1-0 tonight, a result which brought the Lilywhites to within three points of new leaders Hibernians.
The plaudits went to the City team for an aggressively sound showing which confused their opponents, who looked fragile at the back and non-existent in midfield.
The game was 19 minutes old when Umeh Calistus advanced down the left before sending in a cross at the far post into the path of the Brazilian winger Romao, who hit an astonishing top-spin volley over the head of Ivan Janjusevic and just inside the near post.
As if to underline their supremacy in the first half, Valletta fashioned another chance just before half time, when Janjusevic kept Balzan’s heads above the water by tipping Pani’s rising shot over the bar.
Balzan needed to infuse some fluency into their game if they were to knock Valletta off their stride. Early in the second half, da Silva Souza drove high and wide from just outside the box, after receiving a low cross from Kaljevic.
On 68 minutes, da Silva Souza was presented with another gilt-edged chance to atone for his ear miss when Ryan Fenech’s pass flew straight to him but he shot straight into Dziugas Bartkus’s hands.
Just when it looked that Balzan were gradually improving, their hopes suffered a blow six minutes from time when they were reduced to ten men after Anderson de Barros was shown a second yellow card for stretching his elbow to hit Ahlinho in the stomach.
At the death, substitute Michael Mifsud got on the end of a swift counter-attack but was brought down by Lydon Micallef. Janjusevic tipped over the bar Aguirre’s ensuing free-kick.
Valletta are again firmly in contention and with Balzan due to meet Hibernians, the outcome of the championship title remains anybody’s guess.
Source – timesofmalta.com
VALLETTA – D. Barktus, S. Malano (L. Cremona), R. Camilleri, S. Borg, U. Calistus (J. Borg), L. Montebello (M. Mifsud), C. Pani, J. Caruana, V. Alhino, L. Aguirre, R. Romao.
BALZAN – I. Janjusevic, S. Arab (A. Effiong), B. Gilio De Oliviera, B. Kaljevic, R. Fenech, S. Bezzina, A. Da Silva Souza, A. Nafti (L. Micallef), E. Serrano, P. Fenech, A. De Barros.
Scorers: 19′ R. Romao
Yellow Cards: R. Fenech, S. Bezzina, B. Gilio De Oliviera, A. De Barros, L. Micallef (B), S. Borg, M. Mifsud (V)
Red Cards: A. De Barros (B)
Man of Match: R. Romao (V)
Referee: C. Pisani