A brace by substitute Ryan Darmanin stopped Rabat Ajax from collecting their second win in the BOV Premier League after Rabat had taken a two-goal lead courtesy of Ryan Micallef.
With this draw, Balzan therefore missed the chance to join Naxxar in sixth place. Rabat, on the other hand, remain anchored at the bottom of the table, four points behind Vittoriosa.
The Magpies lacked Pavle Velimirovic and Adam Smeir while Dani Miguelez, Luke Sciberras and Firas Aboulezz were missing for Balzan.
Rabat managed to take the lead on the 12th minute when Ryan Micallef received a through pass and all alone in front of goalkeeper Guilherme Lorenzi Schelski, lobbed the ball over him and placed the ball at the back of the net.
Balzan replied with a Lydon Micallef effort which was neutralised by Julian Azzopardi on the 20th.
Six minutes later, Rabat doubled the score when off a cross by Diego Carrillo, Jonathan Bajada headed the ball into the direction of Ryan Micallef who hit home from close range.
The Ajax then missed an excellent opportunity four minutes from the end of the first half when Diego Carrillo concluded a good move on the left flank by releasing the unmarked Moises Avila Perez whose low shot was blocked by Lorenzi Schelski.
Three minutes in the second half, substitute Godwin Mckay tried his luck with a powerful shot from outside the area ending just wide. A freekick by Fabio Vignaroli ended just over the bar on the 58th.
Balzan reduced the gap on the 70th when Ryan Darmanin, served by Jose Luis Armario Negrin, hit low past Azzopardi with the ball hitting the foot of the post before ending at the back of the net.
Four minutes later, Rabat missed another good opportunity with Dani Pelaez receiving a perfect pass by Diego Carrilo from the left and hitting just wide from the edge of the area.
Six minutes from time, Balzan levelled matters when off a cross from the left by Armario Negrin, Ryan Darmanin hit the ball in style past Azzopardi.
In added time, Rabat went close with a powerful drive by Moises Avila Perez ending just over the bar.
RABAT Jonathan Azzopardi, Shaun Gauci, David Azzopardi, Dylan Falzon, Ivan Carapic, Clifford Gauci (76′ Joseph Caruana), Jonathan Bajada, Daniel Pelaez Bellido, Moises Avila Perez, Diego Carrillo Pendas, Ryan Micallef.
Subs not used: Andrew Zammit, Darren Borg, Malcolm Licari, Aidan Azzopardi, Sacha Cortis, Zachary Tanti.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
BALZAN Guilherme Lorenzi Schelski, Justin Grioli, Steve Bezzina (69′ Aaron Agius), Rodrigo Frank Pereira, Andrew Scicluna, Fabio Vignaroli, Dylan Grima, Lydon Micallef, Joselito dos Reis (46′ Ryan Darmanin), Jose Luis Armario Negrin, Gianluca Calabretta (46′ Godwin Mckay).
Subs not used: Ryan Micallef, Mark Spiteri, Erjon Beu, Michael Borg.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Referee: Clayton Pisani
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Edward Spiteri
Additional Assistant Referees: Glen Tonna, Fyodor Zammit
Fourth Official: Thomas Debono
Yellow Cards: Avila Perez, Caruana, Carrillo
Scorers: 13′ Ryan Micallef, 26′ Ryan Micallef; 70′ Ryan Darmanin, 84′ Ryan Darmanin
BOV Player of the Match: Ryan Micallef
Qormi registered a second consecutive win as they defeated Naxxar Lions 3-1 at the Victor Tedesco Stadium. Three points which put them just one point behind sixth-placed Naxxar.
For Naxxar, it was the third defeat in four matches.
Naxxar lacked Pablo Doffo and the injured Louis Cutajar. Qormi, on the other hand, had Ghanaian striker Abudulai Issaka making his debut with Duncan Pisani and Giuseppe Bellucci who were back after serving a one-match ban started the game on the bench.
Qormi had a perfect start, taking the lead on the 5th minute when they were awarded a penalty after Angus Buhagiar floored Abudulai Issaka inside the area. From the penalty spot, Roderick Bajada made no mistake.
Seven minutes later, Qormi doubled the score as Gabriel da Silva released Alfred Effiong who darted inside the area, dribbled past a number of defenders and the goalkeeper, placing the ball at the back of the net.
The third Qormi goal arrived on the 20th when Alfred Effiong’s throughpass brought Gianluca Nucera face to face with the goalkeeper and the Italian did not hesitate to put the ball into the net from close range.
Naxxar pulled one back on 25 minutes with a Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro effort from the left, slightly deflected by a defender, beat the Qormi goalkeeper.
Julian Azzopardi turned into a corner a good effort by Abudulai Issaka following a pass by Alfred Effiong in a swift counter-attack. Four minutes from the end of the first half, Gilmar released Andre Rocha inside the area but the latter’s diagonal shot ended just past the upright.
Goal-mouth action was rare during the second half and after Naxxar hit the upright with a freekick by Gilmar on the 47th, it was only in the final stages that there were some attempts at goal. Substitute Terence Scerri went close with a powerful shot on the 80th and on the 90th, Matthew Farrugia turned into a corner a powerful drive by Victor Bellia.
NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi, Victor Bellia, Marlon Briffa, Angus Buhagiar, Ryan Gilmour Cassar (80’ Jeremiah Ani), Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro, Mattia Del Negro (64’ Daren Falzon), Thiago Lopes De Souza, Andre Rocha Da Silva, Evaldo Silva Dos Santos, Ousseni Zongo (51’ Terrence Scerri).
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella, Jurgen Debono, Andrew Decesare, Yuri Martines De Oliveira.
Coach: Winston Muscat
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Roderick Sammut (46’ Triston Caruana), Owen Bugeja, Marco Petrassi, Emerson Vella, Roderick Bajada, Jonathan Bondin, Gianluca Nucera (59’ Duncan Pisani), Joao Gabriel da Silva (76’ Leighton Grech), Alfred Effiong, Abudulai Issaka.
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Giuseppe Belluci, Karl Sciortino, Dylan Pirotta.
Coach: Tommaso Volpi
Referee: Sandro Spiteri
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Jurgen Spiteri
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: 28’ Roderick Sammut (Q), 30’ Evaldo Silva Dos Santos (N), 68’ Roderick Bajada (Q), 69’ Thiago Lopes De Souza (N)
Scorers: 5’ Roderick Bajada pen. (Q), 12’ Alfred Effiong (Q), 20’ Gianluca Nucera (Q), 25’ Gilmar Da Silva Ribeiro (N)
BOV Player of the Match: Alfred Effiong