Balzan win to remain sole leaders
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.