Champions Balzan were beaten by Hamrun Spartans in the first leg of the Gatorade Futsal Premier League play-offs while Luxol had to struggle hard to see off Valletta.
Brazilians Rogerio, Raphinha and Rodrigo led Hamrun to a 7-6 victory over Balzan to build a minimal advantage for the second leg to be played on Thursday.
Photo: Copyright © Joe Borg
Hamrun broke the deadlock on 15 minutes through Rogerio Dos Santos Filho as compatriot Raphael Felipe Ortiz de Oliveira made them 2-0. Balzan’s Bulgarian Boicho Marev reduced the score two seconds from the break.
In the second half, the Brazilian effect continued as Raphinha and Rodrigo scored five more goals for the Spartans. Balzan reacted immediately as two more goals by Boicho Marev, a brace by Frane Despotovic and Glenn Bonello reduced the arrears for their team.
League leaders Luxol had to sweat hard to overcome the stiff opposition of Valletta as they beat them 6-4.
The Citizens opened a three goal advantage from a brace by Denis di Maio and Cedric Sciberras to stun their opponents in the first minutes of the game. Luxol managed to reduce the score through William Barbosa three minutes before the break.
As the second half resumed, Luxol came back aggressively as they equalized thanks to goals by William Barbosa and Florin Anton. However Valletta managed to regain their advantage through a well-taken goal by Shawn Vella. Then player-coach Florin Anton came to the fore as he scored a quickfire hat-trick to ensure the final victory.
These four teams will face each other next Thursday in the second leg of the play-offs to determine the final two teams.
Meanwhile, Naxxar Lions and Msida St. Joseph progressed to the Gatorade First Division play-offs final after having the better of Attard and Gzira United respectively.
Naxxar edged Attard 4-3 as both encounters resulted in a balanced affair while Msida saw off Gzira 17-14 on aggregate with the former winning the first match 14-7 and the latter replying with a 8-3 win that was not enough to let them through.