Coming from a win against Hibernians, Naxxar were looking for a win to be five points above the danger zone, on the other hand a win Balzan would have lifted them to seventh place.

For this match Balzan had two important players suspended, defender Nikola Braunovic and midfielder Triston Caruana.

Naxxar Lions were forced to settle for a point despite a dominant performance against Balzan in the first half. However in the second half Balzan improved a lot and fought back to level matters.

A draw was perhaps was a fair result since Naxxar dominated in the first half, with Balzan taking over in the second half, even though they had to play three quarters of the game with one men less.

Naxxar showed their intentions from the beginning. In the13th minute, Takuma Yamaguchi set Pablo Augusto Carvalho who tested goalkeeper but goalkeeper Rudy Briffa performed a very good save to deny him.

In the 15th minute, Balzan suffered a severe setback when Ivan Bozovic was shown a straight red card for elbowing Edson Cerqueira Farias  just outside the box.

With a man more on the pitch, Naxxar were causing Balzan all sorts of problems from the right flank and in midfield where Neil Pace Cocks dominated.

In the 21st minute, Naxxar took the lead. From a superb free-kick taken by Neil Pace Cocks, EDSON CERQUEIRA FARIAS headed the ball home.

In the 32nd minute, Edson Farias could have added a second but goalkeeper Rudy Briffa palmed his attempt to safety.

Three minutes later, Elizeu Espirito Santo da Conceicao saw his shot hit the underside of the bar.

Following a number of wasted chances and all the pressure by Naxxar, the first half ended 1-0 in Naxxar’s favour.

In the second half, Balzan came out better and almost equalised soon after the break.

In the 52nd minute, goalkeeper Matthias Debono failed to deal properly with a shot by Jan Busuttil, allowing Oluwatobiloba Dimeji Awosanya to take the rebound but hit the ball over the crossbar.

Balzan insisted and in the 64th minute, Jan Busuttil unleashed a diagonal shot that flashed just wide. That was the turning point with Balzan finally finding their feet and laying siege to Naxxar’s goal.

In a bid to increase the striking power, in the 69th minute, Balzan roped in Benjamin Hili and Aleksander Katanic instead of Nikloa Zerjal and Jan Busuttil.

The substitutions reaped instant returns as in the 70th minute, after only one minute in the pitch, on his first touch of the ball ALEKSANDAR KATANIC brought Balzan back on level terms when, off a cross from the left, he hit home from close range.

This Balzan’s equaliser was not just the product of Katanic’s opportunism but also the other substitution Benjamin Hili’s persistence on the left flank.

In the 73rd minute, Balzan, although with a player less, had a good opportunity to take the lead when Aleksa Andrejic’s shot finish just over the crossbar.

In the 81st minute, numerical equilibrium was restored when Elizeu Espirito Santo Da Conceicao was shown a straight red after a reckless tackle from behind on George Blackwood.

The stalemate prevailed till the end of the match with both teams taking home a point each..

Naxxar Lions: Matthias Debono, Fernando Barbosa Pereira, Neil Pace Cocks (Nikolai Micallef 81’’), Pablo Augusto Servo De Carvalho, Edson Cerqueira Farias, Ryan Gilmour Cassar (Mark Fenech 66’), Takuma Yamaguchi (Marcilio William Moreira Da Silva 75’), Elizeu Espirito Santo Da Conceicao, Yasukaze Ito, Joao Vitor Moura Cardosa.

Balzan: Rudy Briffa, Nicola Zerjal (Benjamin Hili 69’), Samir Arab, Ivan Bozovic, Andre Prates, Olivier Rommens, Ryohei Michibuchi, Jan Busuttil (Aleksa Andrejic 69’), Aleksa Andrejic, Oluwatobiloba Dimeji Awosanya (Han Euigwon 81’), George Henry Raymond Blackwood

Referee: Darryl Agius

BOV Player of the game: Pablo Augusto Servo De Carvalho (Naxxar)