Naxxar held by ten-man Balzan — Easy win for Birkirkara

Balzan earned a point in a 1-1 draw with Naxxar Lions despite playing for over an hour in ten men.

After taking the lead, Balzan lost goalkeeper Christian Cassar who was sent off and from the resulting penalty, Naxxar equalised. However substitute goalkeeper Steve Sultana played an excellent game to stop the Lions from notching the winner.

Naxxar had Nigerian defender Emmanuel Ibok Edet making his debut but they lacked the injured Sidney da Silva. Balzan, on the other hand, had no changes from the team which defeated Zebbug last week.

Balzan managed to take the lead on the 8th minute when off a cross from the right by Justin Grioli, Gianmarco Piccioni headed the ball past goalkeeper Julian Azzopardi.

On the 26th, Balzan goalkeeper Christian Cassar brought Daren Falzon down inside the area. Referee Sandro Spiteri sent off the Balzan goalkeeper and awarded a penalty; from the penalty spot, Gilmar made no mistake to level matters.

Substitute goalkeeper Steve Sultana performed a good save blocking an Emenike Mbachu effort from the left six minutes from the end of the first half.

Sultana was prominent once again ten minutes in the second half on a fine effort by Emenike Mbachu, served on the left by Gilmar but the Balzan goalkeeper turned the ball in style into a corner. Nine minutes later, he blocked a close-range effort by Emenike Mbachu, served from the left by Reano.

On the 72nd minute, the Balzan substitute goalie performed a good save on a cross shot by Pape Gueye from the right and on the 81st, off an assist by Gueye from the right, Daren Falzon’s attempt was neutralised once again by Sultana.

NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi, Angus Buhagiar, Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro, Pablo Doffo (69′ Pape Gueye), Emmanuel Ibok Edet, Uchenna Mbachu Emenike, Daren Falzon, David Fenech, David Alejandro Reano, Andrew Scicluna, Terence Vella (70′ Victor Bellia).
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella, Duane Bonnici, Ryan Gilmour Cassar, Jurgen Debono, Mattia Del Negro.
Coach: Winston Muscat

BALZAN Christian Cassar, Justin Grioli, Steve Bezzina, Elkin Serrano, Edison Bilbao Zarate, Osa Ice-Cream Guobadia, Luke Sciberras, Lydon Micallef (28′ Steve Sultana gk), Oscar Dario Guerrero (90+3′ Michael Borg), Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (85′ Mark Spiteri), Gianmarco Piccioni.
Subs not used: Shaun Bugeja, Juan Carlos Corbolan, Ryan Darmanin, Gianfranco Micallef.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri

Referee: Sandro Spiteri
Assistant Referees: William Debattista, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: Piccioni, Doffo, Sciberras, Reano, Grioli, Fenech, Falzon
Red Cards: 26′ Christian Cassar
Scorers: 8′ Gianmarco Piccioni, 29′ Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro pen (N)
BOV Player of the Match: Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro


Meanwhile at the National Stadium, Birkirkara found no difficulty in beating newly-promoted Zebbug Rangers 4-0. A second win for the Stripes and a second defeat for the Rangers.

With Gareth Sciberras, Edmond Agius and Joseph Zerafa all unavailable, Birkirkara coach Paul Zammit made one change to the team which defeated Pietà replacing Edward Herrera with Leighton Grech. Zebbug, on the other hand, named Brazilian goalkeeper Fabricio Rapchan and midfielder Matthew Bartolo in the starting line-up, replacing Jeffrey Farrugia and Ratko Mandic.

The Stripes took the lead after just one minute when off a through pass by Paul Fenech, Leighton Grech advanced upfield before slotting past goalkeeper Fabricio Rapchan.

Birkirkara went close once again on the 10th minute but Rafael Ledesma was unlucky to hit the upright from a corner with the ball being cleared into safety. On the 36th, Eliandro hit the side netting off a cross by Liliu and six minutes later, Fabricio Rapchan performed a good save on Liliu off a cross by Zach Muscat.

Two minutes from the end of the first half, Birkirkara doubled the score thanks to a fine header by Liliu off a cross by Zach Muscat.

The Stripes added another on 65 minutes when off a through pass by Leighton Grech for Eliandro, the Brazilian striker elegantly rounded the goalkeeper with the ball hitting the upright before ending at the back of the net.

Birkirkara sealed the issue in the 76th when Eliandro was brought down by Yessous Camilleri inside the area. Referee Marco Borg ordered a penalty and Rafael Ledesma converted from the penalty spot.


B’KARA Justin Haber, Matheus Bissi Da Silva, Ellinton Antonio Costa Morais (70′ Edward Herrera), Nikola Vukanac, Rafael Pompeo Rodrigues Ledesma, Eliandro dos Santos Gonzaga, Paul Fenech, Zach Muscat, Ryan Scicluna, Leighton Grech, Ryan Camenzuli.
Subs: Justin Tonna, Alejandro Mendoza Corujo, Antoine Borg, Andrea Curmi, Kurt Zammit, Russel Gatt De Raffaele.
Coach: Paul Zammit

ZEBBUG Fabricio Rapchan dos Santos Morales, Jacob Borg, Javier Serrano Diaz, Matthew Gauci, Yessous Camilleri, Clifford Gauci, Matthew Bartolo (67′ Miguel Ciantar), Carlo Monti, Thomas Paris (61′ Lee James Agius), Mauricio Osmar Rodrigues Britto (67′ Craig Beattie), Matias Muchardi,
Subs: Jeffrey Farrugia, Melvin Farrugia, Lee Galea, Jean Claude Camilleri.
Coach: Jesmond Zammit

Referee: Marco Borg
Ass referees: Duncan Sultana, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Mario Apap
Yellow Cards: Javi Dias, J. Borg, R. Scicluna
Scorers: 1′ Leighton Grech, 43′ Ellinton Costa Morais, 65′ Eliandro dos Santos Gonzaga, 76′ Rafael Ledesma pen
BOV Player of the Match: Leighton Grech