Leaders Balzan returned to winning ways as they defeated Hamrun Spartans 3-1 at the Victor Tedesco Stadium on Saturday.
The leaders were a better side right from the start, taking the lead after less than a minute and going going close to doubling the score a minute later. For the Spartans, this was the second consecutive defeat.
Balzan had three changes from the team which lost to Birkirkara as Elkin Serrano Valero, Abdelkarim Nafti and the injured Justin Grioli made way for Samir Arab, Lydon Micallef and Alan da Silva Souza. Hamrun coach Steve D’Amato, on the other hand, made wholesale changes as Matthew Farrugia, Patrick Jean Teixeira Maia, Mark Anthony Borg, Luke Sciberras, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza and the returning Sergio Raphael replaced the injured David Cassar, the suspended Jorginho, Haruna Garba who left the club to move to Dubai, Luke Grech, Massimiliano Giusti and Christian Maldini.
Balzan had a perfect start, taking the lead after just fifty second thanks to Alan da Silva Souza who rounded a defender before beating Matthew Farrugia with an angled shot from the right.
Just a minute later, the Brazilian striker was unlucky to hit the upright with a shot from inside the area.
Bojan Kaljevic doubled the score on the 26th minute when he received a perfect pass on the left flank, advanced into the area and slotted past goalkeeper Farrugia.
On the other side of the pitch, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza missed a good chance, hitting high off an inviting cross by Nanapere from the left on the 37th.
The Spartans however reduced the gap on the 42nd minute when off a Leandro Motta corner from the left, Patrick Jean Teixeira Maia’s header hit the upright and off the rebound, Luis Vergara Rodriguez and Patrick Teixeira made sure to place the ball at the back of the net with the referee awarding the goal to the Colombian defender.
Balzan went 3-1 ahead on the 63rd thanks to Alfred Effiong who hit home from inside the area when served by Paul Fenech from the right.
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BALZAN Ivan Janjusevic, Samir Arab, Bojan Kaljevic (72′ Matteo Piciollo), Bruno Giglio de Oliveira, Steve Bezzina, Paul Fenech, Alfred Effiong (67′ Abdelkarim Nafti), Dylan Grima, Terence Agius (85′ Sean Cipriott), Alan da Silva Souza, Lydon Micallef.
Subs not used: Christian Cassar, Gary Camilleri, Paul Lapira, Jamie Zerafa.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
HAMRUN Matthew Farrugia, Philip Chircop, Patrick Jean Teixeira Maia (60′ Massimiliano Giusti), Mark Anthony Borg, Luis Miguel Vergara Rodrigues, Saturday Nanapere, Luke Sciberras, Leandro Wallace Motta dos Santos, Jake Grech, Sergio Raphael dos Anjos Raphael, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (82′ Daren Falzon).
Subs not used: Fredrick Tabone, Glenn Azzopardi, Trevor Cilia, Luke Grech, Christian Maldini.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Luke Portelli, Sammy Attard
Matthew De Gabriele
Yellow Cards: Grima, Bezzina, Nanapere, Agius, Vergara, Micallef
Scorers: 1′ Alan da Silva Souza, 26′ Bojan Kaljevic, 42′ Luis Vergara Rodriguez, 63′ Alfred Effiong
BOV Player of the Match: Alan da Silva Souza
Birkirkara continued where they had left last week with the win over leaders Balzan as they registered a most comfortable 7-1 win over Gzira United at the Hibernians Stadium.
For the Maroons, this was the third defeat in the last four matches, leaving them joint-third from bottom.
Birkirkara had Ryan Scicluna replacing Rowen Muscat while for Gzira, Rafael Ledesma was preferred to Clifford Gatt Baldacchino with Jamie Azzopardi once again starting in goal, replacing the injured Jurgen Borg.
The Stripes took the lead on the 9th minute when Zerafa served Dimitrov who released Temile inside the area and the latter anticipated the Gzira goalkeeper, giving a perfect pass to Vito Plut who deposited the ball inside the empty net.
Six minutes in the second half, Birkirkara doubled the score when off a cross by Cain Attard, Srdjan Dimitrov slotted past goalkeeper Azzopardi.
One minute later, the Stripes made it 3-0 thanks to Ryan Scicluna who lobbed the ball over the Gzira custodian from a distance of around 35 metres.
On the 54th minute, Birkirkara scored the fourth goal thanks to captain Gareth Sciberras who flicked the ball past Jamie Azzopardi when served by Vito Plut from the left.
Frank Temile made it 5-0 on the 73rd minute thanks to a header from close range following a Shaun Bajada corner.
Three minutes later, Srdjan Dimitrov scored the sixth goal with a curling shot from the left which beat the Gzira custodian.
The Maroons reduced the gap with a goal by Moises Avila Perez whose low shot from just inside the area beat goalkeeper Kopric after substitute John Nwoba had a shot blocked by the Birkirkara defence.
With a cute lob from the right, substitute Matthew Guillaumier beat goalkeeper Azzopardi to make it 7-1.
Two minutes in added time, Gzira goalkeeper Jamie Azzopardi was sent off after he was adjudged to have handled the ball outside the area. Since the Maroons had already performed the three substitutions, Gianmarco Conti played in goal for the final minute.
GZIRA Jamie Azzopardi, Rafael Pompeo Rodrigues Ledesma (76’ John Nwoba), Gianmarco Conti, Antonio de Queiroz Machedo Neto, Juan Carlos Corbolan, Jonathan Bondin (63’ Clifford Gatt Baldacchino), Moises Availa Perez, Jacob Borg, Zachary Scerri, Souleymane Diamoutene, Yanis Tonna (63’ Dyson Falzon)
Subs not used: Kyle Gerada, Karl Pulo, Andre White, Salvatore Grixti.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
B’KARA Miroslav Kopric, Christian Bubalovic, Gareth Sciberras (62’ Matthew Guillaumier), Mislav Andjelkovic, Srdan Dimitrov, Vito Plut, Nikola Vukanac, Frank Temile, Joseph Zerafa (55’ Shaun Pierre Bajada), Cain Attard (69’ Rowen Muscat), Ryan Scicluna.
Subs not used: Ini Etim Akpan, Edward Herrera, Steven Bonnici, James Brincat.
Referee: Glen Tonna
Assistant Referees: Mitchel Spiteri, Peter Abela
Fourth Official: Etienne Mangion
Yellow Cards: Sciberras
Red Cards: 90+2′ Jamie Azzopardi
Scorers: 9’ Vito Plut, 52’ Srdjan Dimitrov. 53’ Ryan Scicluna, 55’ Gareth Sciberras, 73’ Frank Temile, 75’ Dimitrov, 77’ Moises Avila Perez, 84’ Matthew Guilliamier
BOV Player of the Match: Srdjan Dimitrov
Renato Vella reporting from the Hibernians Stadium