Matchday 02: Valletta 1 Balzan 0
Second game and second win for Valletta after they defeated Balzan thanks to a first-half own goal from Balzan defender Augustine Loof.
The Citizens dominated proceedings even though Balzan made it hard for them to create clear-cut opportunities throughout the game.
Balzan may not have had the most possession but they did create chances and they will feel the scoreline does not make justice for their efforts.
Uros Ljubomirac recorded the first chance of the match but his header sailed over the bar, after 13 minutes.
Moments later, Bojan Kaljevic tried his luck from the edge of the area but failed to hit the target.
Alessandro Guarnone was forced into action when Milos Duric tried to recreate last week’s goal against Sliema Wanderers but the Italian goalkeeper denied him.
Valletta, on their part, were seeing more of the ball but were struggling to create clear-cut chances, in particular due to Balzan’s physicality at the back which was a mismatch for Valletta’s forwards namely Caio Prado, Mario Fontanella and Lucas Campos.
Balzan squandered a well-created chance when Kaljevic headed the ball down to Michael Johnson but the latter sailed his effort over.
Nonetheless, it was Valletta who broke the deadlock just on the brink of half-time. Great footwork by Ivan Curjuric whose through ball found Campos but it was Balzan’s defender Loof who sent the ball into his own net in an attempt to anticipate the Brazilian winger.
Just before the break, Curjuric tried to double Valletta’s lead with a well-weighted free-kick but Vranes was alert to avert the danger.
Balzan coach Mark Miller deployed Marcus Grima for more stability in the midfield and Wigner Alex Alves for more pace upfront in an attempt to level terms.
At the restart, Ljubomirac immediately threatened with a strike from outside the area but it was not enough to beat Guarnone.
Balzan thought they had equalised when Alves found the net from close-range but while he was considered in an offside position, referee Fyodor Zammit halted the advantage and awarded the Reds a free-kick from a previous Joseph Zerafa foul on Alves himself.
Andrejic could not direct the free kick into the net as Valletta remained leading.
Caio cut inside and tried to beat Vranes on the near post but his effort flashed wide.
In the closing stages of the game, Czech striker Milan Jurdik could have doubled Valletta’s lead but his effort was blocked by Vranes.
Source: Times of Malta
VALLETTA: A. Guarnone; R. Camilleri, T. Caruana, J. Arthur, C. Gauci, E. Pena Beltre, J. Zerafa (66 M. Sansone), I. Curjuric, Caio Prado (86 I. Micallef), M. Fontanella (86 M. Jurdik), L. Campos (74 E. Sala).
BALZAN. V. Vranes; A. Loof, S. Arab(88 N. Frendo), M. Duric (46 M. Grima-6), P. Fenech (83 M. Zlatkovic), M. Johnson, U. Ljubomirac, M. Mijic , A. Andrejic , B. Kaljevic (46 A, Alves), S. Cipriott.
Scorers: 44′ A. Loof.
Referee: F. Zammit
Yellow Cards: S. Cipriott, , A. Andrejic, S. Arab (B), I. Curjuric (V)
Man of the Match: C. Prado (V)