Two late goals by Bojan Kaljevic and Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes turned a defeat into a victory for Balzan over Birkirkara as they now catch up with Gzira United in second place, two points behind leaders Valletta.
Balzan came out straight on the offense. After only five minutes, Alfred Effiong dribbled past two defenders and hit a powerful drive which was tipped into a corner by goalkeeper David Cassar.
In the 8th minute, Justin Grioli sent a rising shot from distance that forced another great save from goalkeeper Cassar.
In the 16th minute, Bojan Kaljevic made his way into the area but Cassar blocked his way and his effort missed the target.
Birkirkara responded on the 21st minute as goalkeeper Ivan Janjusevic made a good save over an effort by Jake Grech.
On the half hour mark, Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes of Balzan sent a shot from outside the penalty area that sailed wide.
Birkirkara threatened again on the 35th minute. Jake Grech received the ball on the right side of the penalty area and hit a low shot that was parried by Ivan Janjusevic.
In the 37th minute Balzan had a good chance to open the score when Bojan Kaljevic anticipated the goalkeeper but his goal bound header was cleared off the line by Nikola Vukanac.
In the 42nd minute, against the run of play, Birkirkara took the lead. Following a cross by Carlos Alberto Da Silva Concalves, Jake Grech miscued his shot with the ball falling to unmarked MATTHEW GUILLAUMIER who finished the ball home from close range.
In the additional time prior to half time, Justin Grioli delivered a cross which was connected by Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes, whose header finished centimetres off target.
A minute later, the same player received the ball inside the goal area and sent another header that was neutralised by David Cassar.
In the second half, Balzan came out considerably improved and looked the more likely side to score.
Three minutes into the second half, after Bojan Kaljevic was brought down by Kurt Zammit, there was confusion as the referee judged the foul to have happened inside the area and awarded a penalty to Balzan. However after harsh protests by the Birkirkara players and after consulting with the linesman he changed his decision to a free-kick from the edge of the area. Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes played it short for Ryan Fenech, whose inswinger was headed out by a Birkirkara defender.
Balzan remained dominant and kept pressing for the equalizer. In the 74th minute, Justin Grioli sent a cross which was met by Bojan Kaljevic whose header was saved by David Cassar.
In the 81st minute, a direct free-kick taken by Bruno Gilio de Oliveira ended up wide.
Balzan equalised two minutes later. Following a long ball inside the penalty area by Paul Fenech, BOJAN KALJEVIC anticipated the onrushing goalkeeper David Cassar and headed into an empty net.
The drama continued as Balzan took the lead in the 87th minute. A powerful direct free-kick taken by CARLOS EDUARDO DE FIORI MENDES surprised all as the ball made its way into the far side of the net, past a number of defenders and the goalkeeper.
Birkirkara reacted and a minute later, Carlos Alberto Da Silva Concalves saw his shot from a free-kick finishing high.
Birkirkara created their last opportunity in the additional time. An effort, from inside the penalty area, by Llyelwlyn Cremona’s finished over the cross-bar.
BALZAN: Ivan Janjusevic, Justin Grioli (Milos Lepovic 76’), Elkin Serrano Valero, Alfred Effiong, Uros Ljubomirac, Ryan Fenech (Michael Johnson 91’), Bojan Kaljevic, Bruno Giglio de Oliveira, Paul Fenech, Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes, Samir Arab (Steve Bezzina 45’).
BIRKIRKARA: David Cassar, Cain Attard, Kurt Zammit, Lucas Maia, Nicola Vukanac, Matthew Guillaumier (Llywelyn Cremona 63’), Mislav Andjelkovic, Ryan Scicluna, Jake Grech (Ryan Camenzuli 66’), Carlos Alberto da Silva, Fabiano Oliveira (Luke Montebello 81’).
Referee: Glen Tonna