After losing 1-4 at home, NK Domzale staged a brilliant comeback, scoring three to force extra-time but a goal by Andre Fausto Rodrigues Prates put Balzan through to the second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa Conference League. In fact, the 3-1 win for Domzale in the second leg of the first qualifying round at the Centenary Stadium on Tuesday means that Balzan qualify with a 5-4 aggregate score.
The winner of the tie between Neman Grodno of Belarus and Vaduz of Liechtenstein on Thursday await Balzan in the second qualifying round. Neman Grodno won the first leg away from home 2-1.
The two teams shared the exchanges throughout the first half with the two goalkeepers hardly being tested until Jake Grech, served on the left, had a low shot was parried by goalkeeper Gasper Tratnik on 42 minutes.
However, one minute from the end of the first half, Domzale forged ahead with a header by Abraham Nwankwo following a cross from the left by Danijel Sturm.
Two minutes in the second half, Angel Torres tried his luck with a shot from outside the area which was parried by the Domzale goalkeeper. A cross shot by Sturm from the left was parried by Golovic on the 52nd. However, Balzan went close once again with a powerful drive by Olawale which was neutralised by Tratnik.
Domzale doubled the score on the 63rd minute thanks to a freekick from the left by Jost Pisek which surprised goalkeeper Golovic.
The Slovenians were now brimming with confidence and ten minutes later, Krstovski served Franko Kovacevic who managed to round the goalkeeper and place the ball at the back of the net with a diagonal shot from the right to make it 3-0.
On the 90th, Ivan Bozovic went close to reducing the gap for Balzan with a rising shot from inside the area which was deflected into a corner.
With the score 4-4 on aggregate, the game went into extra-time and three minutes in extra-time, Balzan reduced the gap. A shot by Nikola Zerjal from outside the area was blocked by defender and off the rebound, another substitute, Andre Fausto hit low past Gasper Tratnik.
However, five minutes later, Andre Fausto, who was cautioned for removing his shirt after scoring, received a second yellow card following a reckless tackle just outside the area, leaving his side in ten men. Balzan goalkeeper Danilo Golovic performed a good save on Jost Pisek’s effort from the resulting freekick.
Jake Grech tried his luck with an angled shot from the left three minutes in the second half of extra-time but his shot was parried by the Domzale goalkeeper and five minutes later, the same player had a diagonal shot from the left, deflected into a corner by Tratnik.
BALZAN Danilo Golovic, Ivan Bozovic, Samir Arab (72’ Andre Fausto Prates), Triston Caruana (46’ Ryohei Michibuchi), Paul Fenech (80’ Manyluak Aguek), Angel Torres, Peter Olawale (100’ Evandro Gomes), Jake Grech, Nikola Braunovic, Momcilo Rašo, Aleksa Andrejic (62’ Nikola Zerjal).
DOMZALE Gasper Tratnik, Mirko Mutavcic, Andrej Djuric, Tilen Klemencic (106’ Gasper Cerne), Luka Topalovic (55’ Jost Pisek), Franko Kovacevic, Mario Krstovski, Edin Julardžija, Ziga Repas (86’ Benjamin Markus) (112’ Said Djuranovic), Abraham Nwankwo, Danijel Šturm.
Referee: Visar Kastrati KOS
Assistant referees: Besnik Morina, Granit Hyseni KOS
Fourth official: Alban Shala KOS