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Watch: Balzan strike late to edge Valletta

Balzan edged Valletta to go into top-six. Photo: Jonathan Borg

BALZAN           2         

Andrejic 26, Fenech 85

VALLETTA        1         

Fontanella 64

BALZAN: J. Galea-6, A. Loof-6, M. Grima-6, M. Djuric-6 (72 A. Da Paixao), P. Fenech-6.5, U. Ljubomirac-6.5 (83 N. Frendo), M. Zlatkovic-6, G. Camilleri-6, A. Andrejic-6.5 (90 A. Bradshaw), B. Kaljevic-6.5 (83 S. Jalu), S. Cipriott-6.

VALLETTA: A. Guarnone-6, J. Borg-6, R. Camilleri-6, T. Caruana-6 (55 M. Sansone), J. Arthur-6 (55 L. Campos), S. Dimech-6.5, J. Zerafa-6 (73 C. Prado), I. Curjuric-6, E. Sala-6, M. Fontanella-6.5, K. Tulimieri-6 (55 H. Dilaver).

Referee: Philip Farrugia

Yellow Cards: K. Tulimieri, S. Cipriott, T. Caruana, J. Arthur, I. Curjuric, E. Sala, U. Ljubomirac, P. Fenech, A, Guarnone

BOV Player of the Match: Aleksa Andrejic (Balzan)

Balzan collected three precious points in the battle to secure a top-six finish when they defeated Valletta 2-1 on Sunday. This win puts Paul Zammit’s side just a point behind Valletta, with Balzan having a game in hand.

The Citizens, in fact, missed the opportunity to join rivals Floriana in second place to stay joint-fourth with Birkirkara, the latter also having a game in hand.

Valletta created the better chances early in the game but Balzan managed to take the lead. Early in the second half, Balzan missed a number of goal-scoring opportunities with Valletta leveling the score. However, Balzan managed to restore the lead late in the game.

Balzan had one change from their last outing as Marcus Grima replaced Milos Mijic. The Citizens, on the other hand, welcomed back Ivan Curjuric and Mario Fontanella while Joseph Zerafa was handed a rare start.

Valletta held the initiative in the early stages, going close on 7 minutes with a cross by Tulimieri from the right, and a scissors kick with which Mario Fontanella hit the crossbar.

On 20 minutes, Mario Fontanella received an excellent pass by Shaun Dimech on the right but as the Italian forward tried to dribble the goalkeeper, the ball was intercepted by Jake Galea.

Six minutes later, Balzan forged ahead. Uros Ljubomirac sent Bojan Kaljevic through on the right and the latter served the unmarked Aleksa Andrejic kept his cool to slot the ball past Guarnone.

Two minutes from the end of the first half, Valletta went close with a powerful shot by Ivan Curjuric which ended just wide.

Balzan seemed more determined in the opening minutes of the second half and on 49 minutes, Ljubomirac received an assist by Kaljevic from the right but his goal-bound effort was blocked by Ryan Camilleri. A low shot by Andrejic scraped past the post four minutes later.

Valletta equalised on 64 minutes. Haris Dilaver and Sean Cipriott collided just outside the area and Mario Fontanella took the loose ball and with a fine curved shot gave goalkeeper Galea no chance.

The Citizens were now brimming with confidence and on 76 minutes, Prado served Dimech whose fine shot was turned into a corner in style by Galea.

However, on 84 minutes, substitute Suleiman Jalu’s effort from outside the area was partially saved by Guarnone with the ball being cleared into a corner by Camilleri before Andrejic could conclude.

From the resulting corner, Balzan notched the winner. Alex da Paixao delivered the corner from the left, Ivan Curjuric headed the ball out of the area and Paul Fenech’s first time effort beat the Valletta custodian.

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