Balzan registered their sixth consecutive win and extended their positive run to eleven matches. A goal in stoppage time by Alex da Paixao Alves ensured Balzan stay top of the table, 3 points ahead of Valletta FC and Gzira U FC, as they defeated Hibernians 1-0 at the National Stadium on Saturday.
This match failed to live up to expectations, with neither team managed to test the opposing goalkeeper. In fact, the two sides shared possession inside their own halves throughout the majority of the game.
Balzan welcomed the return of defender Bruno De Oliveira and midfielder Ryan Fenech in midfield, while Alfred Effiong replaced Alex da Paixao Alves in their attack. On the other hand Hibernians had to do without suspended defender Andrei Agius, with Rui Gomes replacing him in the middle. Martin Kreuzriegler, Dunstan Vella and Bjorn Kristensen replaced Joseph Mbong, Marco Sahanek and Jurgen Degabriele in the starting line.
The first chance of the match came to Hibernians on the 18th minute when Clayton Failla hit a shot from distance that finished wide.
On the 36th minute Hibernians threatened again. Dunstan Vella dribbled past two defenders, served Johann Bezzina inside the penalty area but the latter’s shot finished well off target.
Balzan’s response arrived a minute from the break when Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes (Cadu) showed great pace to move past his marker but his powerful drive flew just wide.
In the first fifteen minutes of the second half, Balzan showed better football and had a number of good opportunities on goal.
On the 50th minute, Ryan Fenech hit a shot from a distance which finished well over.
In the 55th minute, Bojan Kaljevic dribbled past his marker but his strong shot finished just over the upright.
Four minutes later, Cadu saw his inswinger, from a direct free-kick, finishing just wide.
In the 69th minute, Balzan decided to include in fresh energy when Uros Ljubomirac was replaced by Alex da Paixao Alves (Lekao).
Hibernians reacted and on the 77th minute they hit back. Johann Bezzina’s cross shot from the left was not connected and finished out.
When it looked as though the match would end in a goalless draw, Balzan grabbed the winner the 90th minute. Bojan Kaljevic set substitute ALEX DA PAIXAO ALVES on the edge of the area and the Brazilian dribbled past two defenders before finishing the ball home, past the onrushing goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.
BALZAN : Ivan Janjusevic, Steve Bezzina, Elkin Serrano Valero, Alfred Effiong, Uros Ljubomirac (Alex da Paixao Alves 69′), Ryan Fenech, Bojan Kaljevic, Bruno Giglio de Oliveira, Paul Fenech, Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes (Michael Johnson 90+2′), Samir Arab (Justin Grioli 88′).
HIBERNIANS : Andrew Hogg, Dunstan Vella, Martin Kreuzriegler, Rui da Gracia Gomes, Jackson Lima, Rodolfo Soares dos Santos (Jurgen Degabriele 90+2′), Marcelo Dias, Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla (Marco Sahanek 76′), Johann Bezzina, Jorge Elias dos Santos (Joseph Mbong 82′)
Referee: Matthew De Gabriele
BOV Player of the Match: Jackson Lima