At the National Stadium, Hamrun Spartans defeated Balzan on penalties following a goalless draw at the end of the ninety minutes and a 1-1 draw after extra-time.

During this game, Hamrun Spartans struggled to create clear-cut chances against a solid Balzan side.

Hamrun seemed as though they had won this match when at the end of the first half of extra-time Faissal El Bakhtaoui put them in front but Balzan hit back and a goal by Bojan Kaljevic sent the match to a penalty shoot-out. However, Hamrun prevailed in the shoot-out, which put them in the quarter-finals, after Milos Mijic and Alvin Kevin Daniels missed for Balzan.

In the first half-hour. the match was evenly balanced with Hamrun dominating proceedings but rarely creating any goalmouth chances. On the other hand, Balzan were happy to defend for long stretches and try to hit their opponents with quick counterattacks.

In the 18th minute, Ħamrun had one of their rare effort towards goal by the shot by Faissal El Bakhtaoui finished just wide.

In the 38th minute, Hamrun had another try when Predrag Djordjevic noticed Jake Galea out of his posts but his attempted chip was well blocked by the Balzan goalkeeper.

Just before the break, Hamrun had the best chance when Faissal El Bakhtaoui served Franklin Sasere but his header finished just over.

In the second half, Balzan came out better, and in the 47th minute goalkeeper Henry Bonello made a good save over a powerful shot by Milan Duric.

In the 56th minute, Faissal El Bakhtaoui made his way from the right but he opted to shoot instead of serving one of his team-mates and his effort finished over.

In the 67th minute, Balzan had a fear when a back pass by Michael Johnson surprised goalkeeper Jake Galea but in the end, Galea managed to recover and clear the ball to safety.

The last chance came to Ħamrun, in the 81st minute, when in a quick break Franklin Sasere served Predrag Djordjevic who saw his shot deflected onto the crossbar by a defender.

This last effort dragged the match into extra-time.

Two minutes into overtime, goalkeeper Jake Galea was there to push away a shot by Faissal El Bakhtaoui.

Ħamrun were unlucky not to take the lead on 104 minutes when Joseph Mbong latched onto a cross by substitute Jorge Ailton Soares’ cross but his effort came off the bar.

However, in the stoppage time of the first half, Hamrun took the lead when they were awarded a free-kick taken by FAISSAL EL BAKHTAOUI was deflected by the Balzan barrier and rolled into the net.

But Balzan did not throw the towel and managed to equalise in the 115th minute when BOJAN KALEVIC burst clear to beat goalkeeper Henry Bonello with a fierce shot to set up the penalty shoot-out finale.

Penalty sequence : ARTHUR OYAMA (Ħ) score 1-0; MILAN DURIC (B) score 1-1; FRANKLIN SASARE (Ħ) score 2-1; Milos Mijic (B) missed; JOSEPH MBONG (Ħ) score 3-1; Alvin Kevin Daniels (B) saved 3-1; STEVE BORG (Ħ) final score 4-1


BALZAN : Jake Galea, Augustine Loof (Neil Frendo 106’), Marcus Grima, Milan Duric, Paul Fenech (Gary Camilleri 77), Michael Johnson, Uros Ljubomirac (Alvin Kevin Daniels 91’), Milos Zlatkovic, Suleiman Jalu (Bojan Kaljevic 67’), Milos Mijic, Aleksa Andrejic (Sean Cipriott 83).

ĦAMRUN SPARTANS: Henry Bonello, Darko Gojkovic, Joseph Mbong, Arthur Oyama, Steve Borg, Franklin Sasere, Matteo Fedele (Jorge Ailton Soares 67’), J.uan Carlos Corbalan (Karl Micallef 106’), Predag Djordjevic (Luke Gambin 91’), Emerson Marcelina, Faissal El Bakhtaoui.

Referee: Andrea Sciriha.