Day 5 Balzan 2 Valletta 1
Balzan finally got their act together after a shaky start to season, to grab three vital points at the expense of Valletta.
Both teams went for a brisk opening with Santiago Malano, Matteo Piciollo and Raed Saleh giving the Balzan defenders something to think about. Carlos de Fiori, Alex Alves and Alfred Effiong were doing likewise at the other end.
Finally, it was a menacing shot by Saleh which was partially parried Ivan Janjusevic. Santiago Malano reacted the quickest to the loose ball, to clinically prod home.
Balzan’s reaction was spontaneous. Alex Alves won a challenge between two defenders to create some space before piercing the Valletta’s armour for the first time this season with a low drive.
The enterprising football promised good prospects for the second period. Barely two minutes had gone when Zerafa released Piciollo on the edge of the box but the Italian’s curler was tipped over the bar by Janjusevic.
The game remained balanced but Balzan were more dangerous in attack. Their fans were over the moon when Alves controlled the ball at the edge of the box and in one motion sent an arcing volley over Henry Bonello, only for the rapidly back-tracking Steve Borg to recoup ground and hooked clear into the path of Ljubomaric, who fired home.
Popovic tried to inject some life in their team’s play when replacing Malano and Ryan Camilleri by Denni and Kyrian Nwoko respectively.
But Balzan were still playing the more effective football. Effiong went on a promising move on the right flank before squaring for Ljubomaric but the Valletta goalkeeper repelled the danger with his feet.
Source – Times of Malta
VALLETTA – H. Bonello, R. Camilleri (K. Nwoko), J. Cruz Gill, S. Malano (D. Dos Santos), U. Calistus, J. Zerafa, R. Saleh, J. Borg, N. Asceric, M. Picollo, S. Borg.
BALZAN. – I.Janjusevic, M. Johnson, A. Effiong, U. Ljubomirac, R. Fenech, S. Arab, M. Lepovic, E. Serrano Valero, C. De Fioti Mendes (J. Borg), A. Da Paixao Alves (J. Zerafa).
Yellow Cards: N. Asceric (V), E. Serrano Valero, U. Ljubomirac, M. Johnson (B)
Scorers: 5′ S. Malano (V), 32′ A. Da Paixao Alves, 55′ U. Ljubomirac (B)
Man of Match: A. Da Paixao Alves (B)
Referee: P. Farrugia