Present FA Trophy holders Balzan broke little sweat to cruise past Challenge League side Pieta’ Hotspurs 5-1 and clinch a last 16 berth.
They opened a two-goal lead early inside the first 10 minutes with a brace from Milan Duric. Balzan’s third goal came halfway into the first half through Milos Mijic. Balzan’s two other goals came early in the second half.
This win was much needed to boost Balzan morale after their recent disappointment in the BOV Premier League.
On the other hand, Pieta are currently in the third position of the BOV Challenge League – Group B.
Balzan came out determined, putting everything in front and in the 2nd minute, they managed to open the score. MILAN DURIC capitalised on a well-engineered move to put Balzan ahead with a low drive from inside the penalty area.
Balzan continued to pile up pressure on Pieta’ and in the 10th minute, they made it count when MILAN DURIC pounced on a loose ball during Pieta’s build-up and darted his way into the box before firing past goalkeeper Miguel Chetcuti.
Aleksa Andrejic came close to finding a third but his header went wide before goalkeeper Miguel Chetcuti came to the rescue with a block on Uros Ljubomirac from the edge of the area.
Neil Frendo also tried his luck to find a third but he miscued a volley.
Nonetheless, Balzan managed to make it 3-0 in the 31st minute when MILOS MIJIC managed to beat goalkeeper Chetcuti from close-range.
Pieta’ tried to surprise Balzan with a break but Paul Lapira’s effort was immediately neutralised by the Balzan defense.
At the restart, Balzan made a double substitution replacing Milos Mijic and Uros Ljubomirac with Bojan Kaljevic and Alvin Kevin Daniels.
BOJAN KALJEVIC who took only one minute to list his name on the scoresheet when he anticipated a back pass to the goalkeeper and slotted the ball home past Chetcuti from inside the penalty area.
In the 53rd minute, MILAN DURIC completed his treble of goals with a long-range shot that went past goalkeeper Chetcuti.
In the 55th minute, Pieta’ were awarded a penalty when Lapira’s shoot was handed by Augustine Loof inside the box. The same Pieta’ player took charge of the penalty spot but goalkeeper Vukasin Vranes denied him to preserve Balzan’s clean sheet.
In the 84th minute, Pieta managed to pull one back, and what a goal. A well-struck direct freekick by JOAO PEDRO OLIVIERA SANTOS stunned goalkeeper Vukasin Vranes before the final whistle.
Balzan will now face the winner from tomorrow’s clash between Ħamrun Spartans and Naxxar Lions, in the round of 16.
BALZAN :Vukasin Vranes, Augustine Loof (Jake Grech 59’), Milan Djuric (Michael Johnson 59’), Paul Fenech, Uros Ljubomirac (Bojan Kaljevic 46’), Milos Zlatkovic, Neil Frendo (Neil Magri 77’), Gary Camilleri, Milos Mijic (Alvin Kevin Daniels 46’), Adam Bradshaw, Aleksa Andrejic.
PIETA’: Miguel Chetcuti, Nathan Cope, Sheldon Mizzi (Luca Gatt 62’), Jake Ghio, Paul Lapira (Joao Pedro Oliveira Santos 66’), Dylan Grima (Liam Scicluna 66’), Yuto Morita, Kurt Briffa, Zean Leonardi (Matthew Portelli 62’), Isaac Cutajar, Lee Galea.
Referee: Stefan Pace