A goal in stoppage time by Alex da Paixao Alves ensured Balzan stay top of the table as they defeated Hibernians 1-0 at the National Stadium on Saturday.
Balzan therefore extended their positive run to eleven matches, this being their sixth consecutive win. Hibs, who were coming from back-to-back wins over Birkirkara and Tarxien, now share fourth place with Gzira and Sliema on 24 points.
Following a quiet first half, Balzan went close with attempts by Bojan Kaljevic and Cadu early in the second half. Johann Bezzina then went close for the Paolites on the 77th minute.
One minute in added time, Balzan scored the all-important goal when in a swift counter-attack, Bojan Kaljevic served Alex da Paixao Alves who slotted the ball past goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.
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BALZAN Ivan Janjusevic, Steve Bezzina, Elkin Serrano Valero, Alfred Effiong, Uros Ljubomirac (69′ Alex da Paixao Alves), Ryan Fenech, Bojan Kaljevic, Bruno Giglio de Oliveira, Paul Fenech, Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes (90+2′ Michael Johnson), Samir Arab (88′ Justin Grioli).
Subs not used: Dorian Bugeja, Clive Brincat, Jacob Borg, Jamie Zerafa.
Coach: Marko Micovic
HIBS Andrew Hogg, Dunstan Vella, Martin Kreuzriegler, Rui da Gracia Gomes, Jackson Lima, Rodolfo Soares dos Santos (90+2′ Jurgen Degabriele), Marcelo Dias, Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla (76′ Marco Sahanek), Johann Bezzina, Jorge Elias dos Santos (82′ Joseph Mbong). Subs not used: Rudy Briffa, Coner Zammit, David Xuereb, Kieran Xuereb).
Coach: Mark Miller
Referee: Matthew De Gabriele
Assistant Referees: Luke Portelli, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Fyodor Zammit
Yellow Cards: Bruno Oliveira, P. Fenech, Kristensen, Serrano, Jorge Elias, Alex da Paixao
BOV Player of the Match: Jackson Lima
Attendance at the National Stadium: 991
At the Victor Tedesco Stadium, Floriana had to wait until the second half to hit six past Lija Athletic. A win which puts the Greens temporarily in third place, four behind leaders Balzan and one behind Valletta, who however have a game in hand.
The Greens, now led by Nicolas Chiesa as their new coach, were comfortably in control right from the start and although their opponents kept them at bay for almost an hour, once they managed to break the deadlock, there was no looking back.
Mario Fontanella seemed to have put Floriana ahead on the 30th minute when he beat goalkeeper Luke Bonnici with a shot from inside the area. However referee Stefan Pace first awarded the goal but almost two minutes later, the goal was disallowed.
Thirteen minutes in the second half, Floriana finally managed to break the deadlock thanks to an unfortunate deflection by Ousmane Sidibe following a cross shot from the left by Juninho Cabral.
Floriana doubled the score on the 63rd minute thanks to a Ignacio Varela strike off a Maurizio Vella corner from the left.
Three minutes later, Juninho Cabral made it 3-0 as he tapped the ball home off an assist by Fontanella from the right.
Floriana increased the lead on the 77th minute thanks to an angled shot by Ignacio Varela from the right.
Nine minutes from time, Lija were reduced to ten men after Ousmane Sidibe was sent off for a rough tackle on Ignacio Varela who had to abandon the pitch injured. From the resulting freekick, Mario Fontanella placed the ball in the bottom left corner for Floriana’s fifth goal.
Four minutes from time, Floriana scored the sixth goal when substitute Leighton Grech concluded a good run on the right with an assist for Mario Fontanella who controlled the ball before hitting home.
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FLORIANA Ini Etim Akpan, Enzo Rui, Steve Pisani (88′ Bradley Sciberras), Clyde Borg, Ignacio Varela (83′ James Baldacchino), Maurizio Vella (77′ Leighton Grech), Juninho Cabral, Alex Cini, Dylan Grima, Mario Fontanella, Emerson Marcelina.
Subs not used: Matthew Grech, Jurgen Pisani, Neil Spiteri, Arthur Henrique Oyama.
Coach: Nicolas Chiesa
LIJA Luke Bonnici, Predrag Babic, Aaron Sammut (80′ Dylan Agius), Daniel Scerri (72′ Aiden Galea), Leon Muscat (64′ Patrick Borg), McAllister Clinch, Raphael Kooh Sohna, Ousmane Sidibe, Carl Cassar, Erjon Beu, Djamel Leeflang.
Subs not used: Jonathan Martinelli, Adrian Caruana, Gabriel Borg, Nigel Spiteri.
Assistant Coach: Michael Mangion
Referee: Stefan Pace
Assistant Referees: Thomas Debono, Peter Abela
Fourth Official: Etienne Mangion
Yellow Cards: Grima, Clich, Kooh Sohna
Red Cards: 81’ Sidibe
BOV Player of the Match: Maurizio Vella
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 445