Balzan win to re­main sole lead­ers

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Balzan yes­ter­day de­feated Ham­run Spar­tans com­fort­ably to re­main Premier League lead­ers, three points ahead of sec­ond placed Birkirkara.

Goals from Alan Da Silva Souza and Bo­jan Kal­je­vic gave them a per­fect start, but de­spite their dom­i­na­tion, Teix­eira Maia pulled one back for the Spar­tans be­fore the in­ter­val. A strike by Al­fred Ef­fiong mid­way through the sec­ond half con­firmed the lead­ers’ su­pe­ri­or­ity.

Ham­run coach Steve D’ Amato had to do with­out Jorge Pereira, ruled out through sus­pen­sion, while goalie Cas­sar was out in­jured. Also miss­ing was striker Garba, who is now play­ing abroad. More­over, Luke Grech and Chris­tian Mal­dini started the match on the bench. Back in the start­ing lineup were Samir Arab, Alan da Silva Souza and Dy­lan Mi­callef.

On his part, Balzan men­tor Oliver Spi­teri left Mat­teo Pi­ci­ollo and Ab­delka­rim Nafti on the bench (both made an ap­pear­ance as sub­sti­tutes) while Ser­rano Valero was not even in­cluded in the squad.

In the first half, Balzan had the match well in hand till the 40th minute. Un­til then, they were lead­ing 2-0 and cruis­ing to­wards a com­fort­able vic­tory, but Ham­run got back in con­tention three min­utes from the in­ter­val.

Balzan were sim­ply the best team dur­ing the first 45 min­utes, but the Spar­tans fought back bravely, though with great dif­fi­culty, to get back in the match.

In fact, they came out fight­ing in the sec­ond half, but they could not pierce the Balzan rear­guard as Jan­ju­se­vic seemed un­beat­able.

When the goal ar­rived at the other end, fol­low­ing a lapse by the Ham­run de­fence, it was all over and Balzan could coast home to a com­fort­able win.

The match was not even one minute old and Balzan were al­ready in the lead. It was Alan Da Silva Souza who went round a de­fender and beat Far­ru­gia with a fine grounder from the edge of the area.

In the next minute the same Da Silva Souza saw his ef­fort be­ing de­vi­ated against the up­right. From the rebound, the ball went just wide even if the of­fi­cial whis­tled for an in­fringe­ment.

On 18 min­utes, Kal­je­vic set Ef­fiong who ad­vanced un­hin­dered in the Ham­run area only to be thwarted by the on­rush­ing Matthew Far­ru­gia who blocked his ef­fort.

At the other end, on 24 min­utes, Jake Grech was close to scor­ing an equaliser for the Spar­tans. From a Dos An­jos cor­ner­kick, Grech’s first ef­fort was blocked by a Balzan de­fender. The rebound then passed inches wide of the up­right.

It be­came 2-0 in the 26th minute. From a Da Silva Souza per­fect pass, Kal­je­vic beat the Ham­run off­side trap, ad­vanced and beat Far­ru­gia with a good, low shot.

The Spar­tans missed a great op­por­tu­nity to re­duce the gap on 37 min­utes when off a per­fect cross by Nanapere Satur­day, Jean Pierre Mif­sud Tri­g­anza hit over the bar from three me­tres.

In the 41st minute, it was Dy­lan Grima who thwarted Mif­sud Tri­g­anza, clear­ing to cor­ner in ex­tremis. From the cor­ner­kick, taken by Motta dos San­tos, Teix­eira Maia had a header hit­ting the un­der­part of the cross­bar, but he was on the right spot to kick home from close in.

The Spar­tans threat­ened to equalise in the 52nd minute, when Jean Pierre Mif­sud Tri­g­anza had a good ef­fort turned to cor­ner by Jan­ju­se­vic.

Ham­run in­sisted and af­ter a good Satur­day pass, it was Motta who tested Jan­ju­se­vic se­ri­ously, but the Balzan goalie dived side­ways to turn to cor­ner in style.

The goal, how­ever, ar­rived soon af­ter, but at the other end. A Paul Fenech low cross was palmed out by Far­ru­gia and Al­fred Ef­fiong had no dif­fi­culty in plant­ing the ball into the net.

On 70 min­utes, sub­sti­tute Nafti had a fine ef­fort just miss­ing the tar­get.

Till the end, Balzan ad­min­is­tered play with Fenech and Nafti in con­trol of mid­field as the Spar­tans failed to threaten again.

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