Balzan halt Birkirkara’s unbeaten run to stay top

Balzan confirmed themselves as the main contenders for the championship as they registered an emphatic 3-1 win over Birkirkara at the National Stadium on Saturday. A win which ensured they stay on top the BOV Premier League table as they regain a four-point lead over Valletta before the latter’s clash with Hibernians on Sunday.

For the Stripes, this was the first defeat after ten matches. A series of ten positive results – nine wins and a draw – which had enabled them to climb from ninth to third. However following this week, they risk mov

Balzan took the lead on the 11th minute when off a cross by Cadu from the left, Milos Lepovic anticipated goalkeeper Kristijan Naumovski, slotting the ball home.

On the 26th minute, Balzan went close to doubling the score thanks to a Cadu freekick which hit the crossbar with the ball being cleared into a corner by a defender. Two minutes later, Kristijan Naumoviski was lucky to escape with a yellow card after bringing Alfred Effiong down just outside the area.

Four minutes in the second half, Balzan doubled the score when Uros Ljubomirac served Alex da Paixao Alves on the left and off the latter’s cross from the left, Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes hit home from close range.

Naumovski came to the rescue six minutes later as he blocked an Alex da Paixao Alves effort at point blank when served by Ljubomirac.

Balzan made it 3-0 on the 74th thanks to Alfred Effiong who slotted the ball past Naumovski following an assist from the right by Justin Grioli.

Birkirkara pulled one back two minutes from time when off a cross from the right by Jake Grech, Ryan Scicluna hit home from close range.

B’KARA Kristijan Naumovski, Edward Herrera, Fernando Barbosa Pereira, Mislav Andjelkovic, Kurt Zammit, Ognjen Rolovic (83′ Gianluca Zammit), Nikola Vukanac, Carlos Alberto da Silva Goncalves Junior, Srdjan Dimitrov (54′ Jake Grech), Ryan Scicluna, Cain Attard (83′ Ayrton Attard).
Subs not used: David Cassar, Terence Agius, Nick Borg, Zack Cassar.
Coach: Paul Zammit

BALZAN Ivan Janjusevic (76′ Sean Mintoff), Uros Ljubomirac, Alfred Effiong, Elkin Serrano Valero, Paul Fenech, Ivan Bozovic (63′ Justin Grioli), Michael Johnson, Steve Bezzina, Alex da Paixao Alves (73′ Siraj Arab Eddin), Milos Lepovic, Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes.
Subs not used: Clive Brincat, Jamie Zerafa, Fabio Attard, Jacob Dominico Borg.
Coach: Marko Micovic

Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Jurgen Spiteri
Additional Assistant Referees: Mario Apap, Philip Farrugia
Fourth Official: Dusan Petrovic
Yellow Cards: Herrera, Effiong, Johnson, Naumovski, Bozovic, Cadu
BOV Player of the Match: Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes
Attendance at the National Stadium: 1,205

Meanwhile at the Hibernians Stadium, Hamrun Spartans registered a comfortable 4-1 win over Naxxar Lions to secure their Premier League status.

This defeat leaves the Lions second from bottom, one point behind St. Andrews and two behind Tarxien.

Hamrun had a perfect start, taking the lead on the 2nd minute when off a Thiago Espindola de Paula freekick, Daniel Zerafa rose high to head home.

Six minutes later, Hamrun were awarded a penalty after Oussenyou Ndoye brought Lydon Micallef down inside the area and from the penalty spot, Micallef made no mistake.

Naxxar reduced the gap on the 11th minute as he beat Jake Galea with a good header following a freekick.

However one minute from time, Hamrun made it 3-1 thanks to Alex Nilsson who placed the ball at the back of the net from close range following a cross by Arthur Faria Machado.

Cristian Zaccardo made it 4-1 in added time thanks to a first time effort which gave Christoph Nicht no chance.

NAXXAR Christoph Nicht, Rafael Santos Henriques Caetano, Mailson Souza Duarte Junior, Ryan Grech, Manolito Micallef, Duane Bonnici, Matheus Verissimo Casarotto, Mark Fenech, Oussenyou Elhadji Ndoye, Djilali Belhadj, Yuri De Jesus Messias.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri

HAMRUN Jake Galea, Marco Criaco, Thiago Esoindola De Paula, Cristian Zaccardo, Daniel Zerafa, Tiago Souza Da Silveira, Arthur Faria Machedo (90′ Luca Celotto), Triston Caruana (72′ Julian Galea), Lydon Micallef (82′ Karl Micallef), Dale Camilleri, Alex Nilsson.
Coach: Jacques Scerri

Referee: Malcolm Spiteri
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Chris Francalanza
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: M. Micallef, R. Grech, R. Santos Henriques Caetano (N), A. Faria Machedo (H)
BOV Player of the Match: Lydon Micallef
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium: 320