Balzan secure Championship Pool spot despite defeat

valletta-balzan140208pzcBalzan secured a place in the Championship Pool despite a 0-1 defeat to Valletta as Naxxar Lions failed to get the points they needed from the clash with Hibernians, losing 0-3.

Jesmond Zerafa’s side starts the second phase on 14 points while Valletta will start with 27 points.

Photo: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar

Balzan lacked the suspended Andrew Scicluna and Steve Bezzina while Fabio Vignaroli was ruled out injured. Valletta lacked Luke Dimech, Denni Rocha dos Santos and Lateef Elford-Alliyu but had Luke Montebello and and Irakli Maisuradze making their debut when they were included as susbtitutes.

Manuel Bartolo performed a fine save on a header by Hamza Barry from close range on the 10th minute following a cross from the left by Abdelkarim Nafti. A minute later, Balzan went close to taking the lead when Pedrinho stole the ball off Steve Borg and Jose Luis Armario Negrin rounded the goalkeeper but concluded wide.

On the 22nd, following a good run on the right flank, Steve Borg’s cross was well-connected by Hamza Barry who was however unlucky to hit the foot of the upright.

Bartolo was superb once again one minute from the end of the first half with another great save on a header by Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza following a cross by Nafti from the left.

On the 78th minute, Pedrinho sent Armario Negrin through but the latter’s close-range effort was blocked by Revishvili.

Valletta managed to break the deadlock on the 84th thanks to Aziz Corr Nyang who concluded a solo effort with a powerful drive which gave goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo no chance.

VALLETTA Nukri Revishvili, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Ryan Fenech, Edmond Agius (79′ Luke Montebello), Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (90′ Irakli Maisuradze), Roderick Briffa, Owonikoko Abayomi Seun, Hamza Barry, Shaun Bajada, Abdelkarim Nafti (68′ Aziz Corr Nyang).
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Ian Azzopardi, Llywelyn Cremona, Dario Tabone.
Coach: Andre Paus

BALZAN Manuel Bartolo, Justin Grioli, Kurt Magro, Ramon dos Santos, Dylan Grima, Luke Sciberras, Lydon Micallef (86′ Ryan Darmanin), Godwin Mckay (85′ Firas Aboulezz), Pedro dos Santos Calcado, Edison Bilbao Zarate, Jose Luis Armario Negrin.
Subs not used: Michael Falzon, Mark Spiteri, Charlie Fuller, Gianfranco Micallef, Juan Corbalan.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa

Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Roberto Vella, Albert Borg Cardona
Fourth Official: Glenn Tonna
Yellow Cards: Micallef, Borg, Zarate, Pedrinho, Magro, Mifsud Triganza, Ramon
Scorers: 84′ Aziz Corr Nyang
BOV Player of the Match: Ryan Fenech

Photo: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar

naxxar-hibs140208pzcAt the Hibernians Stadium, Obinna Obiefule scored twice in the final eleven minutes as Hibernians defeated Naxxar Lions 3-0.

The Paolites start their Championship Pool commitments in third place on 24 points while Naxxar Lions will start the second phase on top in the Relegation Pool with 14 points.

Hibs had goalkeeper Jurgen Borg and Montenegrin defender Igor Radusinovic making their debut while Bjorn Kristensen was back after serving a two-match ban. Missing for the Paolites were Ryan Camilleri, Clayton Failla, Jackson Lima, Zoran Levnajic, Brandon Muscat and Jean Paul Farrugia while Andrew Cohen started the game on the bench. Naxxar, on the other hand, could not count on the suspended Andrew Decesare and Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro apart from the injured Pablo Doffo.

Hibernians managed to break the deadlock on 79 minutes when off a cross by Andrew Cohen from the right, Obinna Obiefule’s header beat Julian Azzopardi.

The Paolites were reduced to ten men on 87 minutes after Johann Bezzina picked a second yellow card for a reckless tackle.

However, on the 90th, Obinna Obiefule, despite being closely marked by a Naxxar defender, saw his low shot at the far post ending into the net to double the score.

In added time, Filip Stojanovic went close to reducing the gap with Filip Stojanovic heading just over the bar off a cross by David Reano.

However three minute in added time, Hibs scored the third goal when Andrew Cohen served Jurgen Degabriele who dribbled past the Naxxar goalkeeper placing the ball inside the empty net.

NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi, Raimi Bakare, John Debono, Angus Buhagiar, Ryan Gilmour Cassar (84′ Duane Bonnici), Daren Falzon, Thiago Lopes de Souza, David Alejandro Reano, Andre Rocha da Silva (76′ Milan Vignjevic), Terence Scerri, Filip Stojanovic.
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella, Ayrton Azzopardi, Victor Bellia, Jurgen Debono, Ryan Mercieca.
Coach: Winston Muscat

HIBS Jurgen Borg, Igor Radusinovic, Jonathan Pearson, Scott Chircop, Timothy Tabone Desira, Johann Bezzina, Bjorn Kristensen, Matthew Bartolo (67′ Andrew Cohen), Edison Luis dos Santos (90′ Zachary Scerri), Obinna Obiefule, Jurgen Degabriele.
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Aaron Hili, Neil Falzon, Dunstan Vella, Jurgen Sultana
Coach: Ian Dawes

Referee: Malcolm Spiteri
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Mario Apap
Yellow Cards: Bakare, Radusinovic, Thiago Lopez, Bezzina, Bonnici
Red Cards: 87′ Jurgen Bezzina
Scorers: 79′ Obinna Obiefule, 90′ Obinna Obiefule, 90+3′ Jurgen Degabriele
BOV Player of the Match: