This encounter between two teams aspiring to snatch a European spot – Balzan and Gzira United finished in a goalless draw.
In the opening period, Gzira had a greater volume of play but this was countered by the persistence of Balzan after the change of ends. In the first half, most of the play was in midfield and rather predictable. Towards the end, Balzan had a couple of chances but goalkeeper Justin Haber was confident saving the Gżira lines. Generally, Balzan looked a better bet to sneak away with a goal.
For this match, Nenad Sljivic was preferred to Milos Lepovic but Carlos Eduardo de Fiori Mendes (Kadu) was still missing through injury. On the other hand, Gzira had Rodolfo Soares missing for this match with Roderick Briffa and Myles Beerman starting on the bench.
In the 5th minute, a dangerous corner taken by Steven Pisani was cleared by the Gzira rearguard.
In the 13th minute, goalkeeper Justin Harber turned into a corner a header by Alfred Effiong after connecting a cross from the right flank by Ivan Bozovic.
Gzira’s first action came just past the half hour. In the 32nd minute, Nikolai Muscat served Andrew Cohen who subsequently set Zachary Scerri whose shot was deflected into a corner.
Gzira’s best chance came a minute later when a Nikolai Muscat saw his grounder from the edge of the area saved into a corner by goalkeeper Sean Mintoff.
Gzira insisted and on the 38th minute, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino found Haruna Garba who dribbled past his opponent but his shot went way over the bar.
In stoppage time Gzira were awarded a free kick from just outside the area following a foul by Aleksandar Kosoric on Justin Mengolo. From an ideal position, Andrew Cohen sent the ball wide.
On resumption, in the 53rd minute, Ricardo Correa Duarte dribbled his way in the area but no one from his teammates was there to connect his low cross.
Balzan had a good chance to open the score in the 66th minute. Steven Pisani connected a long ball sent by Paul Fenech and played the ball back to Uros Ljubomirac but from an ideal position, his shot finished high over the crossbar.
And in the 71st minute Andrew Cohen dribbled past Ricardo Correa Duarte finding Nikolai Muscat whose shot was blocked by a defender. The rebound fell to Zachary Scerri but his shot was blocked again.
In the 83rd minute goalkeeper Justin Haber had to stretch to tip into a corner a cross-shot by Ricardo Correa Duarte.
In the 86th minute, Gzira protested for a penalty following contact in the area on Haruna Garba but the referee waved play on.
And just a minute later Justin Haber saved the day for his team when he splendidly turned a shot, from inside the area, by Ricardo Correa Duarte over the bar.
BALZAN : Sean Mintoff, Aleksandar Kosoric, Nenad Sljivic, Steven Pisani (Andrija Majdevac 73′), Steven Bezzina (Lydon Micallef 89′), Paul Fenech, Alfred Effiong, Uros Ljubomirac, Ivan Bozovic, Elkin Serrano Valero, Ricardo Calixto Correa Duarte.
GZIRA : Justin Haber, Nikolai Muscat, Zachary Scerri, Andrew Cohen, Juan Corbalan, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Edison Bilbao Zarate, Gianmarco Conti, Sacha Borg, Justin Junior Mengolo (Myles Beerman 69′), Haruna Garba.
Referee: Philip Farrugia
BOV Player of the Match: Nikolai Muscat