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FA Trophy Valletta 2 Balzan 1

Valletta vs Balzan

Ten-man Valletta gave a clear testament of their champion pedigree when they came from behind to beat Balzan and book their place in the FA Trophy final.

Goals from Denni and Piciollo in the space of three minutes late in the match completed an astonishing turnaround as Valletta will now face Birkirkara in Saturday’s final at the National Stadium.

It was Valletta who came close first on 15 minutes when Miguel Alba let fly a scorching drive that was brilliantly tipped over by Mintoff.

The Citizens were suddenly on top. Three minutes later, the Balzan goalkeeper pushed away Picillo’s cross-shot and from the rebound Beltre’s shot was cleared away by Michael Johnson.

Balzan were clearly struggling to settle into the match as Valletta’s high were taking away any fluency into their game.

Eleven minutes from the break, Valletta had their best chance of the half when Rowen Muscat pounced on a Lepovic pass to storm forward but his effort was blocked. Piciollo picked up possessio stormed into the area but his shot came off the bar.

Balzan had a promising start to the second half when Kaljevic picked Kadu on the edge of the area but his shot was too central to trouble Henry Bonello.

Valletta suffered a simmering blow on 48 minutes when Borg, who had been booked in the early stages of the match picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Kadu and was dismissed.

Here, Doncic quickly looked to add more cover when he withdrew Rowen Muscat for Juan Cruz Gill as the Brazilian filled the void left by Borg in the heart of defence.

Three minutes later, Kaljevic played in Effiong who sped into the area but he miscued his shot with Bonello to beat.

Balzan finally found the breakthrough on 67 minutes when Effiong hit an angled drive that was not withheld by Bonello and in came Alves who fired home.

On 69 minutes, Balzan should have added a second when Alves turned into a provider and released Kadu who was through on goal but his shot drifted wide.

Two minutes later, Bezzina’s cross was flicked by Kaljevic into the path of Kadu who fell under the challenge of Cruz Gill but the referee waved play on and booked the Brazilian for simulation.

When it looked as though that Valletta were down and out and the unexpected happened.

On 80 minutes, they were awarded a penalty when Ryan Fenech, who had replaced Kadu, pushed Saleh inside the area. From the spot, Denni rifled the ball past the diving Mintoff.

The goal spurred Valletta into action and they two minutes later they grabbed the winner and what a goal it was.

Piciollo sped into the area and despite being in a closed angle he let fly a ferocious drive that gave no chance to Mintoff to complete a remarkable turnaround.

Balzan tried to mount a late assault but they lacked punch upfront and at the final whistle it was the City fans who kickstarted their celebrations after another memorable win.


VALLETTA – H. Bonello, S. Borg, R. Camilleri, S. Malano, M. Piciollo, K. Nwoko (J. Borg), E. Pena Beltre, J. Zerafa, R. Saleh, R. Muscat. (J. Gruz Gill), M. Alba (D. Dos Santos).

BALZAN – S. Mintoff, S. Bezzina, A. Effiong, I. Bozovic, E. Serrano Valero, B. Kaljevic, M. Lepovic (S. Arab), P. Fenech, M. Johnson, C. De Fiori Mendes (R. Fenech), A. Da Paixo Alves.

Yellow Cards: S. Borg, M. Piciollo, J. Zerafa, H. Bonello (V), E. Serrano Valero, I. Bozovic (J. Grioli), A. Effiong, C. De Fiori Mendes, M. Johnson, B. Kaljevic, S. Arab (B)

Red Card: S. Borg (V)

Scorers: 67′ A. Da Paixo Alves, 80′ (Pen) D. Dos Santos, 82′ M. Piciollo, (V)

Referee: C. Pisani