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El Bakthaoui’s last-gasp penalty earns ten-man Ħamrun Spartans a point

Matthew Guillaumier launches an attack for Ħamrun Spartans. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

BALZAN           2

Kaljevic 29, 40

ĦAMRUN SPARTANS   2

El Bakhtaoui 62 pen., 90 pen.

Balzan

J. Galea-6.5, A. Loof-6, M. Grima-6, P. Fenech-6.5, U. Ljubomirac-7, M. Zlatkovic-6, G. Camilleri-6, M. Mijic-6, A. Andrejic-6.5, B. Kaljevic-7 (66 S. Jalu-5), S. Cipriott-6.

Ħamrun Spartans

H. Bonello-6, D. Gojkovic-6 (70 S. Borg), M. Guillaumier-6.5, J. Mbong-6, F. Sasere-6, L. Gambin (76 P. Djordjevic), K. Micallef-5 (46 C. Corbalan), I. Ntow (36 A. Oyama), C. Dielna, E. Marcelina-, F. El Bakhtaoui.

Referee Ishmael Barbara.

Yellow cards Ntow, Grima, Fenech, Zlatkovic.

Red card: Borg (Ħ) 75.

BOV Player of the match Bojan Kaljevic (Balzan)

Faissal El Bakhtaoui came to the Spartans’ rescue when the French striker converted two late penalties, the second in stoppage time, to earn his team a point against Balzan.

It looked as though the Spartans were set to suffer a damaging defeat when two goals from Bojan Kaljevic gave Balzan a two-goal lead.

The Spartans pulled a goal back through El Bakhtaoui with 17 minutes to go but their hopes looked to have been ended when debutant Steve Borg was dismissed just after his introduction.

But the Reds refused to throw in the towel and earned a second penalty in stoppage time which was again scored by El Bakhtaoui to earn themselves a point.

The first chance of the match arrived on 13 minutes when Augustine Loof almost deceived his own goalkeeper Jake Galea when trying to clear Luke Gambin’s cross but the Balzan no.1 was alert to push the ball to a corner.

The Spartans had an even better chance on 20 minutes when Faissal El Bakhtaoui picked up a rebound and rounded Galea but his shot was cleared off the line by Milos Zlatkovic. From the rebound, Guillaumier’s volley was deflected wide.

However, it was Balzan who took the lead on 29 minutes. Aleksa Andreijic intercepted Karl Micallef’s pass and broke through from the right before serving Bojan Kaljevic who tapped home.

The Spartans responded two minutes later when Gambin’s pass was deflected into the path of El Bakhtaoui who fired over.

Ħamrun were forced to make their first change on 36 minutes when Ntow limped out injured and was replaced by Arthur Oyama

Five minutes from time, the Spartans were punished again when Dielna’s pass was intercepted by Ljubomirac who stormed through and served Kaljevic who fired home.

After the break, the Spartans tried to regain some sort of supremacy but they were lacking any sort of fluency in their play as Balzan were happily administering their lead.

Ħamrun were handed a lifeline on 63 minutes when Gary Camilleri handled El Bakhtaoui’s cross inside the area and from the resultant penalty the French forward made no mistake.

Herem Buttigieg roped in Steve Borg and Dodo to add more power to his team.

The Spartans burts into life now and on 73 minutes, Galea was alert to push away Guillaumier’s shot.

However, their hopes of a comeback were severely jolted as three minutes later when Borg was red-carded for hitting an opponent.

Ħamrun were not demoralised and launched a late assault which saw win a second penalty in stoppage time when Zlatkovic pushed Dodo inside the area.

El Bakhtaoui stepped up and sent Galea the wrong way.

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