Saturday 11th December 2016 : Valletta and Balzan repeated the result of the first round clash between them, as they shared the spoils in an entertaining 2 – 2 draw at the National Stadium.
Full highlights of today's entertaining 2-2 draw vs Valletta….A hard fought and fully deserved result which keeps us in second place on the table#ForzaBalzan
Posted by Balzan F.C. on Sunday, December 11, 2016
The two teams failed to take advantage of the draw between Hibernians and Pembroke Athleta on Saturday. This draw served better Hibernians who continue to lead the way with 33 points, followed by Balzan on 31 and Valletta on 29, with Floriana in fourth place on 28.
Balzan made five changes from their last encounter against Floriana. Clive Brincat, Abdelkarim Nafti, Alfred Effiong and the suspended Dylan Grima and Alan da Silva Souza were replaced by Steve Bezzina, Ryan Fenech, Paul Fenech, Lydon Micallef and Matteo Piciollo. On the other hand, Valletta replaced Jean Borg and Romeu Pericles Romao but welcomed back Steve Borg and had Llywelyn Cremona back in the starting line-up after missing the last game.
Valletta were the better team in the first half and after taking the lead at the start of the second half they looked capable of taking complete control. However Balzan came from behind to take the lead, as they took advantage of some lack of concentartion from Valletta’s reargaurd, hitting them twice within seven minutes. Valletta managed to salvage a point ten minutes after.
Valletta showed better football in the first half with their front liners Micheal Mifsud, Federico Falcone and Jhonnattann Benites giving a hard time to Balzan’s defense.
Valetta first attempt was on the 12th minute when Michael Mifsud dribbled past Steve Bezzina and serving Federico Falcone but the latter’s effort was blocked to a corner by Elkin Serrano Valero.
Valletta insisted and forced Balzan to defend for long stretches. However Valletta’s territorial edge was never translated into tactical supremacy.
In the 19th minute, a well-struck header from Bojan Kaljevic was palmed into a corner with difficulty by goalkeeper Dzjugas Bartkus.
On the 28th minute, a Llywelyn Cremona’s effort, following a Jhonnattan low cross, was blocked by the Balzan defence and a minute later Jhonnattann Benites again provided Michael Mifsud with a chance but goalkeeper Ivan Janjusevic saved well.
In the 37th minute Balzan went close, when a curling Ryan Fenech corner, from the right, destined to goal was cleared off the fatal line by Claudio Pani.
Following a goalless first half, Valletta took the lead two minutes into the second half when off a cross from the right by Michael Mifsud, FEDERICO FALCONE headed home past goalkeeper Janjusevic.
On the 58th minute, Balzan’s coach made a tactical change as, in order to improve the attack, he opted to replace Lydon Micallef and Anderson De Barros with Alfred Effiong and Abdelkarim Nafti.
He was proved right as two minutes later Balzan levelled matters when, in a swift counterattack, Abdelkarim Nafti set BOJAN KALJEVIC who managed to beat the defence and fire home past goalkeeper Dzjugas Bartkus
Balzan took command of the game and on the 67th minute they forged ahead when off a long-range cross from the left by Ryan Fenech, Matteo Piciollo headed home past the goalkeeper.
Valletta reacted immediately and decided to put everything in front as Balzan retreated to protect their lead. 15 minutes from time they were rewarded for their efforts and managed to restore equilibrium. They were awarded a free-kick as JHONNATTANN BENITES DA CONCEICAO was brought down just outside the box by Bruno Giglio De Oliveira. The same player took the free-kick and with perfect execution shot the ball over the wall directly into the net, leaving goalkeeper Janusevic helpless.
At the end both teams calmed down and seemed happy to settle for a draw.