For Valletta, led for the first time by Portuguese coach Antonio Jose Cardoso Mendes, this was the third win on the trot which puts them into eighth place on 23 points with two games in hand. On the other hand, Balzan, suffered their seventh defeat this season to stay in the danger zone, fourth from bottom.
Valletta scored the all-important goal one minute from the end of the first half, through a penalty scored by Miguel Alba.
Valletta started with Enmy Pena Beltre on the right of the defense and Ryan Fenech in the middle covering the defense. Santiago Malano played behind the attack formed by Matteo Piciollo, Miguel Angel Alba, and Kyrian Nwoko.
Balzan started with Vukasin Vranes in the goal, while Samir Arab returned back in defense after suspension. Weverton Gomes Sousa and Moussa Sanoh were given the main role in the attack.
In the 5th minute during the very first action of the game, Moussa Sonah advanced in the area but his shot was cleared by defender Jean Borg. Following this action, Balzan suffered a severe blow as their main striker Moussa Sonah had to leave the pitch as an injury he suffered during warm-up persisted and he had to be replaced by Aleksa Andrejic.
In the 8th minute, a fierce shot by Kieran Nwoko tested goalkeeper Vukasin Vranes, serving as a warning of what was to come.
During the first half, most of the play was carried out in midfield with the goalkeepers rarely tested.
In the 42nd minute, Valletta opened the score in a controversial manner. Matteo Piciollo was pulled down inside the box and the referee Darryl Agius first whistled for a penalty and then let play continue. This led to Kyrian Nwoko depositing the ball into the net. The referee validated the goal, however, after consulting with the other officials, he reversed his decision and awarded a penalty. From the spot, MIGUEL ALBA did not fail to convert. This goal had to be the winner.
Matteo Piciollo was predictably the main threat for Balzan and in the 54th minute, his shot from the edge of the area flew just wide.
In the 62nd minute, Balzan opted to make a double substitution. Paul Fenech was replaced with Sean Cipriott and Alfred Effiong replaced Steve Bezzina who was forced to leave the pitch injured.
With a more offensive set-up, Balzan pressed forward with more urgency. In the 68th minute, from a corner taken by Steven Pisani a header by Aleksa Andrejic was cleared off the line by Jean Borg.
In the 77th minute, a shot by Matteo Picollo was saved with difficulty by Vukasin Vranes.
In the 82nd minute, Valletta could have killed the game off when Enmy Pena Beltre dribbled his way into the box before squaring for substitute Shaun Dimech, who outsprinted the onrushing goalkeeper, only to see his effort cleared off the line by Augustine Loof.
VALLETTA: Henry Bonello, Santiago Malano, Ryan Fenech (Nicholas Pulis 84′), Matteo Piciollo (Shaun Dimech 79′), Kyrian Nwok, Jean Borg, Enmy Pena Beltre, Rowen Muscat (Triston Caruana 79′), Leandro Aguirre, Miguel Angel Alba (Eslit Sala 94′), Mihajlo Jovanovic.
BALZAN: Vukasin Vranes, Augustine Loof, Samir Arab (Marcus Grima 82′), Milan Djuric, Paul Fenech (Sean Cipriott 61’), Steve Pisani (Gary Camilleri 82′), Steve Bezzina (Alfred Effiong 61′), Michael Johnson, Uros Ljubomirac, Moussa Sanoh (Aleksa Andrejic 5′), Weverton Gomes.
Referee: Darryl Agius
BOV Player of the Match: Matteo Piciollo