Balzan were beaten 3-4 by NK Domžale in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round at the Centenary Stadium on Thursday.
It was a most dramatic encounter which saw the visitors take an early lead and Balzan turning the score in their favour and regaining the lead after Domžale had equalised. However the Slovenians scored twice to take home a 4-3 win.
In the second leg, which will be played at the Sportni Park in Domžale, Balzan need to win by at least a two-goal difference to reach the next round where they would face the winner of Malmo and Ballymena United.
Balzan coach Jacques Scerri handed new signings Kristian Naumovski and Stefan Dimic a place in the starting line-up while Arthur Faria Machado was included as a substitute.
Domžale took the lead after just five minutes when Ivan Bozovic brought Senijad Ibricic down inside the area and from the penalty spot, the same player made no mistake to level the score.
Balzan equalised on the 34th minute, thanks to Ricardo Calixto Correa whose rising shot following a good run and an assist by Alfred Effiong.
Four minutes later, Balzan went 2-1 ahead when off another assist by Alfred Effiong, Uros Ljubomirac entered the area before beating goalkeeper Sorcan.
The visitors levelled matters four minutes in the second half thanks to a header by Slobodan Vuk, when served by Tonci Mujan.
However on the 56th minute, Alfred Effiong made it 3-2 for Balzan who hit home following a fine pass by Stefan Dimic.
Gregor Sikosek restored equilibrium on the 61st minute, hitting home from close range.
Fourteen minutes from time, Matej Podlogar made it 4-3 for Domžale, placing the ball at the back of the net following a cross from the right.
BALZAN Kristian Naumovski, Aleksandar Kosoric, Nenad Sljivic, Steve Pisani, Steve Bezzina, Paul Fenech, Alfred Effiong (69’ Arthur Faria Machado), Uros Ljubomirac (82’ Andrija Majdevac), Ivan Bozovic, Stefan Dimic, Ricardo Calixto Correa Duarte (86’ Lydon Micallef).
DOMZALE Grega Sorcan, Amedej Vetrih, Tilen Klemencic, Senijad Ibricic, Tonci Mujan (64’ Mattias Kait), Gregor Sikosek, Josip Corluka, Matej Podlogar (77’ Zika Repas), Gaber Dobrovoljc, Adam Gnezda Cerin, Slobodan Vuk (83’ Dario Kolobaric).
Referee: Aleksei Matyunin (RUS)
Assistant Referees: Roman Usachev, Alexey Shiryaev (RUS)
Fourth Official: Evgeny Turbin (RUS)