Balzan maintained their perfect record with a third win in as many matches as a late penalty enabled them to beat Floriana 1-0 at the National Stadium.
For the Greens, this was the first defeat after two wins in the first two matches.
Floriana had two changes from the team which defeated St. Andrews as Antonio Monticelli and Jurgen Pisani replaced Amadou Samb and Maurizio Vella. Balzan, on the other hand, had three changes as Ivan Janjusevic, Abdelkarim Nafti and Matteo Piciollo replaced Christian Cassar, Terence Agius and Lydon Micallef.
The Greens went close on the 9th minute with a Ryan Camenzuli freekick from which Nicolas Chiesa’s header was turned into a corner by Janjusevic. Matteo Piciollo then missed a good opportunity on the 10th minute, when served on the left by Nafti, having a weak shot from an ideal position neutralised by Haber. On the 27th, Floriana went close once again with a through pass for Ignacio Varela whose conclusion from the edge of the area, when marked by Bruno Oliveira, just missed the target.
The second half lacked goal mouth action but two minutes from time, Balzan finally managed to break the deadlock when they were awarded a penalty after Alfred Effiong was brought down inside the area by Enrico Pepe and Lydon Micallef made no mistake from the penalty spot.[gallery_bank type=”images” format=”masonry” title=”true” desc=”false” responsive=”true” display=”all” sort_by=”random” animation_effect=”bounce” album_title=”true” album_id=”10″]
FLORIANA Justin Haber, Andre Scicluna (41′ Alex Cini), Antonio Monticelli, Enrico Pepe, Enzo Ruiz, Clyde Borg (59′ Steve Pisani), Ignacio Lucas Varela (58′ Amadou Samb), Jurgen Pisani, Nicolas Chiesa, Mario Fontanella, Ryan Camenzuli.
Subs not used: Matthew Grech, Jake Davies, Brooke Farrugia, Daniel Agius.
Coach: Giovanni Tedesco
BALZAN Ivan Janjusevic, Bojan Kaljevic (74′ Lydon Micallef), Bruno Giglio de Oliveira, Steve Bezzina, Anderson Francisco de Barros (46′ Dylan Grima), Paul Fenech, Alfred Effiong, Justin Grioli, Abdelkarim Nafti, Elkin Orlando Serrano Valero, Matteo Piciollo.
Subs not used: Christian Cassar, Clive Brincat, Terence Agius, Sean Cipriott, Samir Arab.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
Referee: Glenn Tonna
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Christopher Francalanza
Fourth Official: Eman Grech
Yellow Cards: Borg, Varela, Bruno, Pepe, Samb
Scorers: 88′ Lydon Micallef
BOV Player of the Match: Nicolas Chiesa
Meanwhile newly-promoted Gzira United registered their first win as a goal by Robert de Pinho de Souza gave them a narrow win over neighbours Sliema Wanderers at the Hibernians Stadium.
The Maroons therefore extended their positive run after two draws in their first two outings while for the Wanderers, this was yet another disappointing result as they remain without any points after three matches.
Gzira coach Branko Nisevic named Juan Carlos Corbalan and Dyson Falzon in the starting line-up, replacing Jacob Borg and Yanis Tonna. For Corbolan, this was his first appearance for the Maroons. The Wanderers, on the other hand, welcomed back Roger de Souza Villas Boas and Mark Scerri who replaced Gabriel Aquilina and Clive Psaila.
The Maroons scored the all-important goal on the 15th minute when off a Rafael Ledesma freekick, Robert de Pinho de Souza slammed the ball home past goalkeeper Giuseppe Sarao.
In the second half, Sliema went in search of the equaliser, trying their luck with attempts by Milos Galin and Mark Scerri but on the other side of the pitch, John Nwoba on three occasions and Gianmarco Conti could have increased the lead further.
GZIRA Jurgen Borg, Clifford Gatt Baldachino, Gianmarco Conti, Rafael Pompeo Rodrigues Ledesma (82’ John Nwoba), Juan Carlos Corbolan, Joceano da Silva Santos (68’ Zachary Scerri), Moises Avila Perez, Dyson Falzon (77’ Jacob Borg), Souleymane Diamoutene, Antonio de Queiroz Macedo Neto, Robert de Pinho de Sousa.
Subs not used: Kyle Gerada, Jonathan Bondin, Karl Pulo, James D’Agostino.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
SLIEMA Giuseppe Sarao, Alex Muscat, Gary Muir, Stefano Biancardi (54’ Michel Wisdom Salomon Aka), Roger de Souza Villas Boas (78’ Gabriel Aquilina), Peter Xuereb, Mathias Muchardi, John Mintoff, Mark Scerri, Milos Galin, Jean Paul Farrugia (60’ Aidan Jake Friggieri).
Subs not used: Glen Zammit, Michele Sansone, Ryan Spiteri, Giuseppe Muscat.
Coach: John Buttigieg
Referee: Clayton Pisani
Assitant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Mitchell Scerri
Additional Assistant Referees: Trustin Farrugia Cann, Philip Farrugia
Fourth Official: Duncan Sultana
Yellow Cards: Gatt Baldacchino, Tony, Mintoff, Galin, Robert
Scorers: 15′ Robert de Pinho Souza
BOV Player of the Match: Mark Scerri