Futsal: Balzan, Luxol reach final

Champions Balzan and league leaders Luxol St. Andrews made it to the final of the Gatorade Futsal Premier Division play-offs after overcoming the hurdle imposed by their respective opponents Hamrun Spartans and Valletta.

Balzan staged one of the greatest play-off semifinals fight-backs to beat a resilient Hamrun Spartans side 7-4 after extra-time for an aggregate score of 13-11.

The Spartans swept into a two-goal lead thanks to Raphinha’s double strikes. However the Champions reacted fiercely and scored two quickfire goals from Slobodan Janjic and Carlo Scicluna. Hamrun managed to restore their advantage through the same Raphinha.

As the first 20 minutes of play finished 3-2, Balzan had to upgrade their attacking level to restore the aggregate parity. In fact it was their player coach, Frane Despotovic who found the net with a great shot but Hamrun were back in front as Rodrigo was on the mark for the Spartans. The match continued to intensify as Despotovic completed his personal brace and level the matters for Balzan.The Spartans had to succumb to Balzan’s goal one minute from the end as Mark Zammit slotted home a perfect Marev pass to make it 5-4 and put the match into extra-time.

The extra-time was no story for Hamrun as Balzan continued on the offensive and managed to score their sixth goal through Boycho Marev and keeper Nicholas Farrugia to assure their team’s place in the final.

Luxol obtained a comfortable qualification for the final after brushing aside Valletta 9-1 for an aggregate score of 15-5.

They surged ahead thanks to Peter Pullicino while William Barbosa doubled the score after a goalkeeper’s blunder. Pullicino, well-served by Barbosa, completed his personal brace to make it 3-0 before the break. Three more goals by William Barbosa and a brace by Florin Anton together with a strike from Matteo Desira Buttigieg completed the rout for Luxol as Valletta scored their consolation goal through Fabio Bandeira.

Balzan and Luxol will meet in the best of three play-off final to be played on May 8th, 15th and 22nd at the Corradino Pavillion.