This game was a well dressed demonstration whereby Balzan brushed aside Birkirkara to keep up the title chase alive, consolidating a one point clear off Valletta.

 

Balzan had to do without their suspended prolific scorer Bojan Kaljevic who was replaced with Milos Lepovic, while Ryan Fenech and Bruno Gilio de Oliveira were still missing due to injury. On the other hand Birkirkara made two changes from their last game. Ognjen Rolovic and Carlos Alberto Da Silva Goncalves Junior were preferred to Jake Grech and Walder Jesus Acosta Ferreira.

Balzan were the better side especially in the first half. They created several chances, were imaginative and more threatening, as Birkirkara was stretched defensively. Despite a second-half improvement, Birkirkara finished up as convincing losers.

Balzan took the lead on the 11th minute when off a cross by Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes (Cadu) from the left, MILOS LEPOVIC anticipated goalkeeper Kristijan Naumovski, slotting the ball home.

In the 17th minute, Ivan Bozovic served Alfred Effiong through on goal, but the latter was anticipated by onrushing goalkeeper Kristijan Naumovski before he could shoot.

Birkirkara reacted as on the 22nd minute Carlos Alberto Da Silva Goncalves Junior delivered the ball towards Srdan Dimitrov whose effort finished wide.

Balzan soon regained the initiative and on the 26th minute they almost doubled their score. From a direct free-kick on the edge of the area, Cadu was unlucky as his inswinger came off the bar, with the ball being cleared into corner by a defender.

Two minutes later, Cadu sent another excellent through ball towards Effiong. Goalkeeper Naumovski rushed out of his position and brought Effiong down outside the area. Despite strong protest for a red card by the Balzan players and supporters, the referee opted to give him only a yellow card.

From the resulting free-kick, Cadu delivered a ball in the direction of Uros Ljubomirac whose effort was saved by Naumovski.

Birkirkara replied on the 39th minute. Kurt Zammit delivered a cross towards Fernando Barbosa Pereira whose header was easily saved by Ivan Janjusevic
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A minute later Balzan went close again. Following a corner by Cadu, goalkeeper Naumovski failed to hold the ball. From the rebound, Effiong’s shot took a deflection off a defender which finished into a corner.

In the second half, Balzan continued were they left in the first half.

In the 49th minute, Uros Ljubomirac sent a cross finding Alex Da Paixao Alves who quickly sent a low cross across goal and CARLOS DE FIORI MENDES was there to finish the ball into an empty net.

In the 54th minute, in a bid to increase the punch in front, Birkirkara introduced Jake Grech for the ineffective Srdan Dimitrov.

In the 55th minute, following a fast counter attack, Uros Ljubomirac sent a pass in the direction of Alex Da Paixao Alves whose shot on goal was saved in a timely block by Naumovski .

Birkirkara finally threatened Balzan on the 65th minute when Kurt Zammit delivered a cross towards Ognjen Rolovic and the latter forced a great save from Janjusevic.

ALFRED EFFIONG sealed the issue for Balzan on the 74th minute when he received the ball from Justin Grioli and finished home from close range.

Birkirkara pulled one back on the 88th minute. Jake Grech squared the ball for Ryan Scicluna who managed to put the ball behind substitute goalkeeper Sean Mintoff.

However, this was too late for Birkirkara as Balzan remained solid to take home the three precious points.

BIRKIRKARA : Kristijan Naumovski, Edward Herrera, Fernando Barbosa Pereira, Mislav Andjelkovic, Kurt Zammit, Ognjen Rolovic (Gianluca Zammit 83′), Nikola Vukanac, Carlos Alberto da Silva Goncalves Junior, Srdjan Dimitrov (Jake Grech 54′), Ryan Scicluna, Cain Attard (Ayrton Attard 83′).

BALZAN: Ivan Janjusevic (Sean Mintoff 76′), Uros Ljubomirac, Alfred Effiong, Elkin Serrano Valero, Paul Fenech, Ivan Bozovic (Justin Grioli 63′), Michael Johnson, Steve Bezzina, Alex da Paixao Alves (Siraj Arab Eddin 73′), Milos Lepovic, Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes.

Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann

Player of the Match : Carlos De Fiori Mendes – (Balzan).

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