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Wasteful Balzan denied by Sta Lucia in six-goal thriller

Balzan were held to a 3-3 draw by Sta Lucia. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

STA LUCIA 3
Plut 7; Rodrigues 69

Souza 87

BALZAN      3

Kaljevic 25; Mijic 34

Ljubomirac 74

STA LUCIA: J. Archibald-7; N. Pulis-6.5; G. Conti-6.5; P. Mota-6.5; V. Plut-6.5; A. Souza-7; E. Rodrigues-7; V. Filho-6.5; J. Zerafa-6 (66 J. Tanti); D. Xuereb-6.5; K. Xuereb-6 (89 L. Mckay).

BALZAN: J. Galea-6; A. Loof-6.5; M. Djuric-6.5 (72 Neil Frendo); P. Fenech-6; U. Ljubomirac-6; M. Zlatkovic-6; G. Camilleri-6; M. Mijic-6.5; A. Andrejic-6.5 (72 A. Paixao); B. Kaljevic-7 (85 S. Jalui); S. Cipriott-6.

Referee: Daniel Portelli.

Yellow card: Souza, Mijic, K. Xuereb, Zerafa, Andrejic.

BOV Player of the Match: Bojan Kaljevic (Balzan).

Balzan missed the chance to claim three valuable points after being held to a 3-3 draw by a spirited Sta Lucia side at the Tony Bezzina Stadium on Sunday.

The Reds will rue their missed chances after dominating for long periods of the game, especially in the first half. Paul Zammit’s side now have 16 points, sharing the sixth spot with Gżira United.

Sta Lucia, on their part, have now moved to 10 points together with fellow relegation rivals Gudja United and Mosta.

Oliver Spiteri’s team could not have dreamed of a better start when they drew first blood after seven minutes. Right-back Dexter Xuereb whipped in a delightful cross that met Vito Plut’s header and went past goalkeeper Jake Galea.

Balzan’s reply came from Uros Ljubomirac who, after beating Sta Lucia goalkeeper, tried to slot the ball into the net but Sta Lucia’s backline managed to clear the danger on the goal line.

The Reds had another effort on goal when Milan Duric tried his luck from the edge of the area just to see his effort diverted into a corner. From the consequent set-piece, Bojan Kaljevic’s header sailed over the bar.

Balzan kept piling the pressure on Sta Lucia and Kaljevic tried to level terms with a thumping volley but could not hit the target.

The Montenegrin forward was not to be denied on the 24th minute when Duric’s free-kick struck the post before dropping onto the feet of Kaljevic who fired home from point-blank range.

Milos Mijic came close to put the Reds ahead but his low drive was blocked by Sta Lucia goalkeeper Juliani Archibald before Kaljevic saw his fierce strike from inside the penalty area finish inches wide.

Serbian midfielder Duric tried to beat Sta Lucia goalkeeper with a low free-kick but could not find the target.

Balzan’s missed chances almost came back to haunt them when Alan Souza was on the receiving end of a well-drilled transition but his effort went wide from goal.

Nonetheless, Balzan managed to make their pressure count when Mijic hit a fierce strike from close-range on which Archibald could do nothing as the Reds turned the game to their favour.

Sta Lucia tried to level terms through their goalscorer Plut but his shot could only hit the outside of the net.

At the restart, Balzan resumed their superiority and came close to opening a two-goal lead through Kaljevic but his close-range header went whiskers away from goal.  Moments later, Archibald was forced into action when kept a Kaljevic’s shot at bay.

Balzan had another effort on goal through Paul Fenech but Archibald managed to halt his shot before Milos Zlatkovic had a close-range attempt going wide.

Despite all these chances, Balzan failed to make their pressure count and Sta Lucia profited through Eliomar Rodrigues who capitalised on his team’s first real chance in the second 45 minutes when he slotted into an empty net after receiving from Jan Tanti.

Yet, Balzan managed to pull themselves ahead for the second time when Ljubomirac made his way into the box before firing past Archibald. Rodrigues tried to equalise once again for Sta Lucia but could not beat Jake Galea with his effort from the edge of the area. The half wore on but there was still time for another twist when Rodrigues cross was met by Souza who headed home.

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