Balzan gave Valletta their first Premier League defeat of the season. Although Valletta took an early lead through Santiago Malano, they were later beaten with goals from Alex Da Paixao Alves and Uros Ljubomirac.
Balzan gave an impressive performance and were technically the better team, even though they were without the services of the suspended Paul Fenech and Bojan Kaljevic, who were replaced by Milos Lepovic and Alfred Effiong. On the other hand Valletta showed lack of creativity as Matteo Piciollo and Jean Borg, replacing Michael Mifsud and Claudio Pani, failed to impress. Valletta should be grateful for not losing with a higher score thanks to the good goalkeeping by Henry Bonello.
Only 47 seconds into the game, Ryan Fenech took the first shot at goal, from a distance, forcing goalkeeper Henry Bonello to dramatically turn into a corner.
However Valletta took the lead in the 5th minute. Raed Ibrahim Saleh fired a menacing shot that was partially saved by Ivan Janjusevic. From the rebound Santiago Malano scored with a low drive from the edge of the area.
Balzan reacted immediately and in the 21st minute they managed to equalize. Alex Da Paixao Alves (Lekao) fed the ball to Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes (Cadu) inside the area who returned the ball back to Lekao with a delicate touch. Lekao darted inside the area and hit a low shot past Henry Bonello.
On the half hour Alfred Effiong was unlucky as his shot was denied by the cross bar.
In the 36th minute Ivan Janjusevic saved well a direct shot from a free-kick taken by Joseph Zerafa.
4 minutes later a shot by Raed Ibrahim Saleh finished over the cross bar.
In the second half the game remained balanced but Balzan were more dangerous in attack.
In the 50th minute Joseph Zerafa released Matteo Piciollo on the edge of the box but the latter’s curling shot was tipped over the bar by goalkeer Ivan Janjusevic.
5 minutes later, Balzan took the lead. Lekao controlled the ball at the edge of the area and in one motion lobbed the ball over Henry Bonello, but Steve Borg managed to clear off the line with the ball falling into the path of Uros Ljubomaric, who fired home.
Valletta tried to inject some life by putting in Denni Dos Santos for Santiago Malano, and later Kyran Nwoko took Ryan Camilleri’s place as they probed for an equaliser, albeit with little conviction.
Although the game reduced its tempo, the outcome was still unpredictable. But as Valletta remained mostly sluggish, Balzan held out to a deserved win.
In the 80th minute, Balzan had a great chance to increase the score. Alfred Effiong was blocked inside the Valletta area by the goalkeeper, the ball fell to Cadu, whose effort was again footed out by the Henry Bonello.
BALZAN : Ivan Janjusevic, Steve Bezzina, Michael Johnson, Alfred Effiong, Uros Ljubomirac, Ryan Fenech, Samir Arab, Milos Lepovic, Elkin Orlando Serrano Valero, Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes (82’ Jacob Borg), Alex Da Paixao Alves (90’ Jamie Zerafa).
Coach: Marko Micovic
VALLETTA : Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Ryan Camilleri (72’ Kyrian Nwoko), Juan Cruz Gill, Santiago Malano (61’ Denni Rocha Dos Santos), Matteo Piciollo, Jean Borg, Uchenna Calistus Umeh, Joseph Zerafa, Raed Ibrahim Saleh, Nikola Asceric.
Coach: Zoran Popovic
Referee: Philip Farrugia
BOV Player of the Match: Alex Da Paixao Alves (Lekao)