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Balzan edge Gżira United in close victory

Milos Zlatkovic celebrates with his team-mates after putting Balzan ahead. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

GŻIRA UNITED 0

BALZAN           1

Zlatkovic 30

GŻIRA UNITED

D. Zarkov-6.5, G. Mentz-6.5 (82 T. Espindola), L. Tabone-6, S. Pisani-6 (68 N. Muscat), Z. Scerri-6 (82 B. Borg), M. Dias-6.5, C. Riascos-5.5 (68 R. Correa Duarte), T. Kolega-5.5, M. Cosic-6, M. Maia-6.5, J. De Assis-7 (82 C. Gauci).

BALZAN

J. Debono-7, I. Bozovic-6, D. Torres-6.5, M. Grima-6, P. Fenech-6, A. Torres-7, M. Zlatkovic-7, A. Satariano-6.5 (90 Z. Grech), N. Braunovic-6, Matheus-6.5 (83 B. Kaljevic), A. Andrejic-7 (83. A Bradshaw).

Referee: Glen Tonna.

Yellow cards: Torres, Bozovic, Jefferson, Scerri, Matheus, A. Torres, Riascos, Braunovic, Debono.

BOV Player of the match Angel Torres (Balzan).

Balzan handed Gżira United their second loss of the season courtesy of a first-half goal scored by Milos Zlatkovic at the Centenary Stadium.

With this result, Gżira United dropped to third place, six points behind leaders Ħamrun Spartans who play Sta Lucia today while Balzan, climbed to seventh place.

A couple of days away from a friendly against Italian giants Inter, Gżira coach Darren Abdilla kept his target set on his team’s progress in the Premier League, making just the one change to his starting line up from his 1-1 draw against Birkirkara. Steve Pisani got the nod ahead of Nikolai Muscat who made a late cameo.

As for Balzan, coach Oliver Spiteri opted to bring in Jalu Suleiman and Raso Momcilo for Nikola Braunovic and Aleksa Andrejic, a move which reaped rewards.

Gżira held most of possession in the opening stages but against the run of play, it was Balzan who went ahead on the half hour when Zlatkovic connected first-time with an Andrejic freekick.

Alex Satariano could have put Balzan further ahead three minutes later but his shot from distance was easily collected by Darijan Zarkov.

At the other end, goalkeeper Jonathan Debono had to climb over his own defence to stop a Gzira corner kick from going into his goal on 37 minutes.

Two minutes from the break, Duvan Torres tried his luck with an unexpected effort at goal from inside his own half which spared an out-of-position Zarkov’s blushes as it floated over the bar.

After the break, Balzan looked a different side after having appeared second best throughout the first half despite having the lead. Angel Torres hit first but his freekick went over.

Gabriel Mentz could have brought Gzira level with a cannon of a freekick but Debono was alert to block but could not hold onto the ball, only saved by a missed rebound effort from Maxuell.

The Brazilian had the next opportunity of the game after a Gzira counter attack but once again, his shot went wide.

Balzan replied with a low effort from Matheus on 75 minutes which hit the post.

Matheus was at the heart of another Balzan action three minutes later as his interception led to Angel Torres moving the ball to Andrejic who fired at goal but Zarkov was alert to stop.

Wholesale changes dominated the match but Gzira were close to taking a point late in the match with a pair of Muscat and Luke Tabone shots from distance in the final minutes but both efforts finished just wide.

Standings provided by Sofascore

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