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Birkirkara beat Balzan with injury time brace

Balzan's Milos Mijic (left) tries to get past Birkirkara's Diego Venancio. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

BIRKIRKARA     3         

Montebello 86, Valletta 90+2, Venancio, 90+5

BALZAN           2         

Andrejic 31 pen, Ljubomirac 43

Birkirkara L. Savelloni-5 (46 A. Sylla), E. Ruiz-5 (39 O. Carniello), E. Pepe-5.5, Y. Yankam-5 (39 N. Bismark), L. Montebello-5.5, P. Mbong-5.5, K. Zammit-5 (46 C. Bonanni), C. Attard-6, L. Aguirre-6, J. Macedo-5.5 (89 J. Valletta), D. Venancio-5.5.

Balzan J. Galea-6, A. Loof-6, M. Grima-6.5, P. Fenech-6, U. Ljubomirac-7 (77 A. Daniels), M. Zlatkovic-6, N. Frendo-6, G. Camilleri-6, M. Mijic-6.5, A. Andrejic-6.5 (90 A. Bradshaw), B. Kaljevic-6 (63 M. Duric).

Referee Matthew De Gabriele

Yellow Cards Yankam, Kaljevic, Savelloni

BOV Player of the Match Uros Ljubomirac (Balzan)

Birkirkara made a brilliant comeback from two goals down to score three in the final stages and beat Balzan 3-2.

With just four minutes to go, Balzan were comfortably leading by two goals but the Stripes pulled one back on 86 minutes, scoring another two goals in added time to take home three precious points and move three points clear of Valletta and Gżira United, despite having a game in hand, and one point behind Ħamrun Spartans.

Balzan should consider themselves unlucky to leave the Centenary Stadium empty-handed. They managed to take a well-deserved two-goal lead during the first half and were clearly in control but after conceding the first goal four minutes from time, two great goals in added time turned the score in Birkirkara’s favour.

For the Stripes, new signing Luca Savelloni was named in goal while Paul Mbong, Kurt Zammit, and Jeferson Macedo were all included in the starting line-up. Balzan, on the other hand, had two changes from their last outing with Neil Frendo and Milos Mijic replacing Milan Djuric and Sean Cipriott.

Birkirkara were more aggressive in the early stages but Balzan had the first attempt at goal after eight minutes with Bojan Kaljevic delivering a cross from the left from which Milos Mijic had a shot deflected by a defender into a corner. Mijic went close once again on 16 minutes with a freekick ending just over the bar.

However, on 31 minutes, Balzan opened the score. Bojan Kaljevic intercepted a back pass by Kurt Zammit only to be floored by goalkeeper Luca Savelloni; referee Matthew De Gabriele ordered a penalty and Aleksa Andrejic duly converted.

Paul Zammit’s side maintained the pressure and Uros Ljubomirac went close with a diagonal shot from the right which scraped past the post on 39 minutes.

Birkirkara coach Andre Paus opted for two changes replacing Ruiz and Yankam with Carniello and new recruit Ngissah Bismark.

However two minutes from the end of the first half, Balzan made it 2-0. Aleksa Andrejic served Uros Ljubomirac on the right and the latter rounded Pepe before beating Savelloni with a low shot. The Italian goalkeeper was at fault as the Serbian forward’s effort was not that prohibitive.

Desperate to see his side get back in the game, the Birkirkara coach made another two changes for the second half, replacing Savelloni with Amara Sylla and Kurt Zammit with Bonanni.

Sylla came to the rescue on 52 minutes, blocking a Kaljevic effort from outside the area. On the hour, Birkirkara threatened with a close-range header by Bismark which was parried by Galea off a cross by Montebello as the Stripes tried to make a timid reaction.

With four minutes to go, Leandro Aguirre delivered a freekick from the right and Luke Montebello headed home from close range to reduce the gap.

Birkirkara became more confident and two minutes in added time, following a long throughball on the left, Bismark headed the ball in direction of Jed Valletta whose great lob gave goalkeeper Jake Galea no chance to level matters.

Balzan were left speechless but it was not over yet, as three minutes later, Diego Venancio managed to beat the Balzan goalkeeper with one of his trademark powerful drives to make it 3-2.

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