Balzan and Hibernians shared four goals and took a point each in an entertaining 2 – 2 draw. Balzan were the better team but failed twice to hold on to their lead. Hibernians had to fight hard to take a point from this game.
Balzan were forced to make two changes from their last game as Justin Grioli and Uros Ljubomirac were serving a one-match ban while Sean Cipriott was named among the substitutes. They were replaced by Steve Bezzina, Andrija Majdevac and Milos Lepovic. On the other hand, Hibernians welcomed back Nemanja Radojevic who replaced Johann Bezzina.
I first chance of the game came to Hibernians in the 7th minute when from a clearance by Balzan goalkeeper Steve Sultana, Joseph Mbong could only see his shot cleared off the line by Elkin Serrano Valero.
In the 14th minute, Hibernians almost managed to take the lead. From a Jurgen Degabriele’s assist on the left, Tiago Adan Fonseca hit low from close range but goalkeeper Steven Sultana saved well.
In the 24th minute, Andrija Majdevac served Alex da Paixao Alves (Lecao) whose effort just scraped the post.
Balzan kept piling on the pressure and it was no surprise that, in the 26th minute, Balzan forged ahead. From a free-kick taken by Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes (Kadu), Andrija Majdevac’s effort from close range was partially blocked by goalkeeper Andrew Hogg. From the rebound ALFRED EFFIONG slotted the ball inside the net.
In the 33rd minute, Balzan lost Alfred Effiong through injury and were forced to make a change with Sean Cipriott replacing him.
In the 38th minute, Steven Bezzina, served by Kadu, went close with a diagonal shot from the left after the Hibernians defenders failed to clear the pass.
In the 44th minute, Balzan were unlucky not to double the score when Lecao unleashed a powerful shot that stamped off the post.
However a minute later, against the run of play, Hibernians leveled matters. Elkin Serrano Valero brought down Taylon Nicolas Marcolino inside the penalty area and the referee pointed towards the spot. From the penalty spot TAYLON NICOLAS MARCOLINA did not fail to convert.
On restart, Hibernians replaced Bjorn Kristensen with Johann Bezzina.
The match remained evenly balanced with Balzan coming close in the 58th minute when a shot by Andrija Majdevac was pushed away by Andrew Hogg.
In the 65th minute, Tiago Adan Fonseca’s cross-shot hit the top of the cross bar before Steven Sultana got hold of the ball.
In the 70th minute, the Balzan defense failed to clear Jurgen Degabriele’s cross but Taylon Nicolas Marcolino fired over from a good position.
Hibernians were punished for that miss as, in the 72nd minute, Balzan took the lead once again. Ivan Bozovic served ANDRIJA MAJDEVAC whose low drive gave Andrew Hogg no chance at all, with the ball finishing at the back of the net.
Hibernians hit back and equalised again in the 76th minute. Tiago Adan Fonseca sent a through ball to TAYLON NICOLAS MARCOLINO who beat the offside trap and finished the ball into the net past the onrushing goalkeeper Steven Sultana.
Both teams increased their tempo in the final minutes. Balzan went close in the 82nd minute with a diagonal shot by Sean Cipriott from the right that finished just over the crossbar.
Soon after, off a cross by Milos Lepovic, a header by Andrija Majdevac from the right just missed the target.
In the 88th minute, a cross by Ivan Bozovic was not connected by Lecao, who was in a good position.
In the 89th minute, Hibernians lost a golden opportunity to clinch the three points. Following a shot by Joseph Mbong, Elkin Serrano Valero handled the ball inside the penalty area and the referee did not hesitate to award a second penalty to Hibernians. Elkin Serrano Valero was sent off after being shown a second yellow card. However, to the disappointment of the Hibernians supporters, Taylon Nicolas Marcolino’s effort from the penalty spot finished wide.
BALZAN : Steven Sultana, Nenad Sljivic, Alex da Paixao Alves, Steven Bezzina, Michael Johnson (Dale Camilleri 79′), Alfred Effiong (Sean Cipriott 34′), Ivan Bozovic, Elkin Serrano Valero, Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes, Andrija Majdevac, Milos Lepovic.
HIBERNIANS: Andrew Hogg, Dunstan Vella, Nemanja Radojevic, Joseph Mbong, Marcelo Dias, Jurgen Degabriele (Guttiner Fernando Costa Tenorio 86′), Bjorn Kristensen (Johann Bezzina 46′), Isaac Ntow, , Andrei Agius, Tiago Adan Fonseca.
Referee: Stefan Pace
BOV Player of the Match: Taylon Nicolas Marcolino