First-half goals do the job for Balzan

Balzan scored three in the first half to beat Tarxien Rainbows 3-0 at the National Stadium to move to just two points behind Hibernians before the leaders take on Birkirkara on Sunday.

For Tarxien, this was yet another disappointing result as they have now gone twelve matches without a win.

Both sides made wholesale changes from their last outings. Daniel Zerafa, Matthew Sladden, Ayrton Azzopardi, Kurt Zammit and Dylan Micallef replaced Emerson Marcelina, Daniel Ponce de Leon Garcia, Alex da Paixao Alves and the suspended Alex Nilsson and Julian Galea. Balzan, on the other hand, had Anderson de Barros, Samir Arab, Sean Cipriott and Alfred Effiong replacing Steve Bezzina, Milos Lepovic and the suspended Bruno Giglio de Oliveira and Ryan Fenech.

Balzan managed to take the lead on the 27th minute when Bojan Kaljevic sent Lydon Micallef through and the latter rounded a defender before beating Philip Schranz with a low shot.

Three minutes later, Alan da Silva Souza doubled the score with a shot from close range following a through pass by Terence Agius.

Five minutes from the end of the first half, Alfred Effiong concluded a solo run from midfield with a diagonal low shot who beat Schranz for the third time.

TARXIEN Philip Schranz, Ebiabowei Baker, Matthew Brincat (82’ Triston Caruana), Mathew Sladden (46’ Emerson Marcellina), Ayrton Azzopardi, Dylan Micallef, Andrew Agius, Daniel Zerafa (46’ Alex De Paixao Alves), Matthew Tabone, Kurt Zammit, Sacha Borg.
Subs not used: Andrea Cassar, Lyon Caruana, Matthew Degiorgio, Gilbert Testaferrata De Noto.
Assistant Coach: Brian Testaferrata

BALZAN Christian Cassar, Arab Samir, Alan da Silva Souza, Lydon Micallef (78’ Jamie Zerafa), Sean Cipriott (85’ Gary Camilleri), Clive Brincat (45’ Abdelkarim Nafti), Alfred Effiong, Bojan Kaljevic, Anderson Francisco de Barros, Terence Agius, Elkin Serrano Valero.
Subs not used: Justin Micallef, Paul Lapira, Matteo Piciollo, Milos Lepovic.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri

Referee: Eman Grech
Assistant Referees: Jurgen Spiteri, Chris Azzopardi
Additional Assistant Referees: Sandro Spiteri, Ishmael Barbara
Fourth Official: Duncan Sutana
Yellow Cards: Zammit, Nafti, Baker, Marcelina
BOV Player of the Match: Alan Da Silva Sousa

Renato Vella reporting from the National Stadium

Meanwhile at the Victor Tedesco Stadium, Floriana were held in a 1-1 draw by Gzira United.

Gzira coach Darren Abdilla made five changes from the team which lost to Hibernians as Jonathan Bondin, Andre White, Karl Pulo, Juan Carlos Corbalan and Dyson Falzon replaced Ian Azzopardi, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Jacob Borg, Zach Scerri and the suspended Louis Rene Zome. Floriana, on the other hand, lacked Ryan Camenzuli and Nicolas Chiesa while Steve Pisani was among the substitutes. They were replaced by Andre Scicluna, Clyde Borg and Amadou Samb.

Following a freekick from the left by Fontanella, Amadou Samb’s header hit the upright on the 3rd minute. On the 27th, Samb threatened once again with a header which was cleared off the goal line by Andre White. Gzira replied with an Ige Adeshina effort which scraped past the post just before half-time.

Eleven minutes in the second half, Floriana managed to break the deadlock when off a corner by Steve Pisani, Antonio Monticelli hit home past goalkeeper Jurgen Borg.

However on the hour, Gzira levelled matters thanks to a Juan Carlos Corbalan freekick which ended in the top left corner.

FLORIANA Justin Haber, Andre Scicluna, Antonio Monticelli, Enrico Pepe, Enzo Ruiz, Clyde Borg, Ignacio Varela (48′ Steve Pisani), Sebastian Nayar, Alex Cini, Amadou Samb, Mario Fontanella.
Subs not used: Matthew Grech, Jake Davies, Mattia Zarb, Jurgen Pisani, Zach Camilleri, Denilson Borg Castaldi.
Coach: Giovanni Tedesco

GZIRA Jurgen Borg, Jonathan Bondin, Andre White, Souleymane Diamoutene, Karl Pulo (61′ Zachary Scerri), Ige Abdullahi Adeshina (75′ Emerson Amaira), Juan Carlos Corbalan, Moises Avila Perez, Carlos Alejandro Reyna, Dyson Falzon (38′ Ian Azzopardi), Gianmarco Conti.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Antonio de Queiroz Machedo Neto, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Jacob Borg.
Coach: Darren Abdilla

Referee: Etienne Mangion
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Ryan Aquilina
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: C. Borg, White, Pepe, J. Borg, Nayar, Avila Perez
BOV Player of the Match: Antonio Monticelli