A goal in added time by substitute Abdelkarim Nafti enabled ten-man Balzan to rescue a point in a 2-2 draw with Tarxien Rainbows at the Victor Tedesco Stadium on Saturday.
A brace by Alex Nilsson had put the Rainbows two goals ahead but after reducing the gap through Alan da Silva Souza, Nafti notched the equaliser deep into stoppage time. With this draw, Balzan make sure of retaining sole leadership. On the other hand, Tarxien join St. Andrews on the 10-point mark. The Rainbows have now gone five matches without a win.
Balzan had three changes from the team which defeated Hamrun as Christian Cassar, Elkin Serrano and Matteo Piciollo replaced Ivan Janjusevic, Terence Agius and Lydon Micallef. For Tarxien, Claudio Frances replaced Kurt Zammit.
The Rainbows managed to take the lead on the 11th minute when Triston Caruana sent Alex Nilsson through on the left and the latter hit past goalkeeper Christian Cassar.
Six minutes in the second half, Tarxien doubled the score when off an assist by Daniel Ponce de Leon Garcia for Alex Nilsson on the left, the latter advanced into the area before slotting the ball.
However four minutes later, Balzan reduced the gap through Alan da Silva Souza who hit home from close range after goalkeeper Andrea Cassar blocked a cross from the right.
Eight minutes from time, Balzan were reduced to ten men after Elkin Serrano received a second yellow card for a foul on substitute Julian Galea.
Four minutes in added time, Balzan notched the equaliser when substitute Abdelkarim Nafti’s powerful freekick from the left gave goalkeeper Andrea Cassar no chance with the ball ending at the back of the net.
The final whistle brought clashes between the two sets of players and officials which led to free-for-all fight which took several minutes for the police to control.
TARXIEN Andrea Cassar, Ebiabowei Baker, Triston Caruana, Daniel Ponce de Leon Garcia, Alex Nilsson (81′ Julian Galea), Emerson Marcelina, Sergio Fernandez Prendes, Daniel Zerafa, Alex da Paixao Alves, Sacha Borg, Claudio Frances (86′ Kurt Zammit).
Subs not used: Philip Schranz, Luke Zahra, Dylan Micallef, Andrew Agius, Matthew Tabone, Kurt Zammit.
Coach: Jacques Scerri
BALZAN Christian Cassar, Paul Fenech, Samir Arab, Bojan Kaljevic (61′ Lydon Micallef), Bruno Giglio de Oliveira (69′ Terence Agius), Steve Bezzina, Elkin Serrano Valero, Alfred Effiong, Dylan Grima, Matteo Piciollo (57′ Abdelkarim Nafti), Alan da Silva Souza.
Subs not used: Ivan Janjusevic, Paul Lapira, Clive Brincat, Sean Cipriott.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
Referee: Stefan Pace
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Clayton Pisani
Yellow Cards: Ponce, Arab, Bruno, Effiong, Grima, Serrano, Caruana, Baker
Red Cards: 82′ Elkin Serrano
Scorers: 11′ Alex Nilsson, 51′ Alex Nilsson, 55′ Alan da Silva Souza, 90+4′ Abdelkarim Nafti
BOV Player of the Match: Daniel Ponce de Leon Garcia