Balzan made a great comeback from two goals down as they scored four goals in the final thirty-two minutes to beat Sliema Wanderers 5-3 and bounce back from last week’s heavy defeat to leaders Hibernians.
Thanks to this fourth win in five matches, Oliver Spiteri’s side moves once again four points ahead of Floriana, seven ahead of Mosta and eight ahead of the Wanderers.
For Sliema, this was yet another disappointing result as they suffered the third defeat in five matches, collecting just one point from the last three games.
Balzan had two changes from the team which lost to Hibernians as the returning Clive Brincat and Bojan Kaljevic – who was making his league debut – replaced Elkin Serrano and Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza. The Wanderers lacked Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Beppe Muscat, Michael Mifsud and Aidan Friggieri. Joseph Borg, Trevor Cilia and Filippo Talato replaced Muscat, Friggieri and Andrea Pisanu who started the game on the bench.
The Wanderers had a perfect start taking the lead on the 2nd minute thanks to Pedro dos Santos Calcado who slotted the ball past Steve Sultana from a close angle.
Balzan replied with a freekick by Guerrero which was partially saved by Glenn Zammit on the 10th.
Sliema doubled the score on 27 minutes thanks to a direct freekick from the left by Pedro dos Santos Calcado which gave Sultana no chance.
A minute later, Oscar Guerrero tried to surprise Glenn Zammit with a shot from outside the area but his shot was partially saved by the Sliema goalkeeper.
Balzan pulled one back on the 31st when Oscar Guerrero lobbed the ball over Zammit, catching him out of place; Edison Bilbao Zarate’s header was blocked by a defender and off the rebound, Gianmarco Piccioni slotted the ball home.
Seven minutes in the second half, Sliema went 3-1 ahead when Pedro dos Santos Calcado released Bocar Djumo on the left and the Portuguese striker beat Sultana with an angled shot which hit the upright before ending at the back of the net.
With a powerful shot from just outside the area, Bojan Kaljevic gave goalkeeper Glenn Zammit no chance to reduce the gap once again for Balzan on the 58th.
Oscar Guerrero missed a good opportunity on the 63rd as he failed to connect off an inviting cross by Piccioni. Four minutes later, the Colombian midfielder hit the foot of the upright with a shot from outside the area; the ball bounced onto the goalkeeper before being cleared into safety.
Balzan levelled matters on 76 minutes when off a cross from the right, substitute Ryan Darmanin managed to head the ball past the Sliema goalkeeper.
Three minutes later, Balzan forged ahead thanks to a great header by Bojan Kaljevic off a cross by Edison Bilbao Zarate.
But it was not over yet as two minutes from time, Gianmarco Piccioni sealed the issue with a fifth goal for Balzan as he slotted the ball past the Sliema goalkeeper when served inside the area.
BALZAN Steve Sultana, Justin Grioli (59′ Terence Agius), Steve Bezzina, Samir Arab, Edison Bilbao Zarate, Osa Ice-Cream Guobadia, Bojan Kaljevic (83′ Dylan Grima), Oscar Dario Guerrero, Clive Brincat, Gianmarco Piccioni, Luke Sciberras (59′ Ryan Darmanin).
Subs not used: Christian Cassar, Lydon Micallef, Godwin Mckay, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza.
Coach: Olier Spiteri.
SLIEMA Glenn Zammit, Alex Muscat, John Mintoff, Mark Scerri, Filippo Talato (80′ Andrea Pisanu), Marko Potezica, Trevor Cilia (90′ Peter Xuereb), Joseph Borg (86′ Luca Martinelli), Pedro dos Santos Calcado, Bocar Djumo, Stefano Bianciardi.
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Axl Xuereb, Iousef Meli, Chris Mercieca.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: William Debattista, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Kaljevic, Arab, Cilia, Pedrinho, Scerri
Scorers: 2′ Pedro dos Santos Calcado, 27′ Pedro dos Santos Calcado, 31′ Gianmarco Piccioni, 52′ Bocar Djumo, 58′ Bojan Kaljevic, 76′ Ryan Darmanin, 88′ Gianmarco Piccioni
BOV Player of the Match: Pedro dos Santos Calcado