Balzan came back from two goals down to hold Valletta in a 2-2 draw in a clash between two teams who had claimed maximum points from their first three matches at the National Stadium on Saturday. A draw which means that although both sides are still unbeaten, they no longer hold a perfect record as they drop their first two points.
Valletta had three changes from the team which defeated Pembroke last week as Henry Bonello, Juan Cruz Gill and Uchenna Calistus Umeh replaced Dziugas Bartkus, Ryan Camilleri and the injured Roderick Briffa. On the other hand, Dylan Grima replaced the injured Anderson de Barros for Balzan.
The Citizens managed to take the lead on the 16th minute when Santiago Malano sent Leandro Aguirre through on the left flank and the latter advanced into the area before slotting past goalkeeper Janjusevic.
Two minutes in added time, Valletta doubled the score when Uchenna Calistus Umeh gained possession in midfield, dribbled past four defenders before placing the ball at the back of the net with a shot from just outside the area.
Five minutes in the second half, Balzan pulled one back when Alfred Effiong served Bojan Kaljevic with an intelligent pass and the Montenegrin striker hit low past Bonello.
Four minutes later, Oliver Spiteri’s side notched the equaliser when off a cross from the left, Bojan Kaljevic headed the ball down for former Valletta midfielder Abdelkarim Nafti to beat Bonello with a first-time effort.
BALZAN Ivan Jajnusevic, Bojan Kaljevic, Bruno Giglio de Oliveira, Steve Bezzina, Dylan Grima (83′ Lydon Micallef), Paul Fenech, Alfred Effiong, Justin Grioli, Abdelkarim Nafti (74′ Clive Brincat), Elkin Serrano Valero, Matteo Piciollo (77′ Terence Agius).
Subs not used: Christian Cassar, Paul Lapira, Sean Cipriott, Samir Arab.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
VALLETTA Henry Bonello, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Juan Cruz Gill, Santiago Malano, Jean Borg, Federico Falcone (73′ Michael Mifsud), Uchenna Calistus Umeh (90+1′ Jurgen Suda), Leandro Aguirre, Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao, Romeu Pericles Romao (81′ Ian Azzopardi).
Subs not used: Maverick Buhagiar, Ryan Camilleri, Russell Fenech, Nicholas Pulis.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Luke Portelli, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Esther Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Grioli, Gill
BOV Player of the Match: Bojan Kaljevic
Attendance at the National Stadium: 1,087
Meanwhile at the Hibernians Stadium, Tarxien Rainbows registered their first win as they defeated Floriana 1-0 in an eventful clash which saw three players sent off, a penalty miss and no less than ten minutes of added time in the second half.
The Rainbows therefore bounced back from back-to-back defeats to Birkirkara and St. Andrews while for the Greens, this was the second consecutive 0-1 defeat.
With Ebiabowei Baker ruled out through suspension and Ayrton Azzopardi injured, Tarxien coach Jacques Scerri made four changes from the team which lost to St. Andrews, naming Daniel Zerafa, Matthew Tabone, Kurt Zammit and Claudio Frances in the starting line-up as Julian Galea started on the bench and Joao Pedro Oliveira Santos was not included in the squad.
Tarxien managed to break the deadlock one minute from the end of the first half when off a corner from the right by Triston Caruana, Sergio Fernandez Prendes slammed the ball home past goalkeeper Justin Haber.
Three minutes in the second half, Steve Pisani was unlucky to hit the foot of the upright with a shot from outside the area.
An incident in midfield led to an argument between a number of players from the two teams with referee Malcolm Spiteri sending off two players as Sergio Fernandez Prendes was shown a red card for trying to hit an opponent and Clyde Borg a second yellow card.
Floriana could have equalised on the 59th minute when they were awarded a penalty after Amadou Samb was brought down inside the area but Mario Fontanella hit incredibly high from the penalty spot.
Substitute Rogelio Avila was then sent off by referee Malcolm Spiteri on the 89th minute after receiving two yellow cards in the space of four minutes.
Following ten minutes of added time, the referee blew the final whistle which brought joy from the Tarxien supporters as they registered their first win.
TARXIEN Philip Schranz, Triston Caruana, Daniel Ponce de Leon Garcia (78′ Rogelio Antonio Van Horn Avila Filho), Alex Nilsson, Emerson Marcelina, Sergio Fernandez Prendes, Daniel Zerafa, Alex de Paixao Alves, Matthew Tabone, Kurt Zammit, Claudio Frances (62′ Julian Galea).
Subs not used: Andrea Cassar, Matthew Brincat, Luke Zahra, Dylan Micallef, Sacha Borg.
Coach: Jacques Scerri
FLORIANA Justin Haber, Enrico Pepe, Enzo Ruiz, Steve Pisani, Clyde Borg, Ignacio Lucas Varela (64′ Gustavo Franca Amadio), Jurgen Pisani (46′ Mario Fontanella), Alex Cini, Amadou Samb, Nicolas Chiesa, Ryan Camenzuli.
Subs not used: Matthew Grech, Jake Davies, Mattia Zarb, Daniel Agius, Daniel Vassallo.
Coach: Giovanni Tedesco
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Martin Borg
Fourth Official: Eman Grech
Yellow Cards: Borg, Marcelina, Daniel Ponce, Pisani, Schranz, Nilsson, Rogelio, Galea, Pepe, Ruiz
BOV Player of the Match: Triston Caruana
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium: 508