A last gasp Frane Despotovic strike, nine seconds from the end, completed an inspired second half by Balzan as they claimed the Gatorade Knock-Out after seeing off Luxol 5-4.
The success was Balzan’s revenge for their upset the previous week to the same Luxol in the Gatorade Futsal Premier League title. In fact, Luxol had etched their name for the first time on the championship after lowering Balzan’s colours in the play-off final.
Photo: Copyright © Joe Borg
As the clock struck the first minute, Balzan immediately surged ahead through Boicho Marev.
However, Luxol reacted promptly and managed to grab the equalizer thanks to Celino Alves,
This goal brought more confidence to the new local futsal champions as they added two more goals from George Frendo and Peter Pullicino.
Balzan were a different lot in the second half and took only 40 seconds to score their second goal through Boicho Marev.
Luxol refused to throw in the towel and regained the two-goal lead from Peter Pullicino. However that goal never derailed the Reds though they were soon back in business as Glenn Bonello and Carlo Scicluna hit the target to level the matters for their team.
At this point, Frane Despotovic, Balzan’s mentor, opted to deploy Boicho Marev as flying keeper to add pressure on Luxol’s defensive department. This option seemed to bring the desired effects.
Luxol’s hopes took a nosedive nine seconds from the end, as after a great move, Frane Despotovic showed great clarity of thought and composure amid the mayhem to drive into the area and beat Adrian Attard with a powerful low finish.
The Corradino Pavilion was an explosion of joy and relief for Balzan as they succeeded to win this competition for the fourth time in a row.
Balzan captain Carlo Scicluna was presented with the KO trophy by FMA President Mark Borg.