BOV Premier League | Valletta 3 – Balzan 1

Mario Fontanella scored three times as Valletta managed to beat nine men Balzan in a match characterised by controversial decisions.

Photo: Dominic Borg
Photo: Dominic Borg

Valletta came into this match looking to extend their positive run. The Citizens were on a high moral as they won last Sunday’s derby against Floriana. Such result enabled them to move just two points behind the Greens and thus were looking for a win in order to put more pressure on them.

On the other end, Balzan shared the spoils with Birkirkara on a goalless draw. The aim of Balzan is to play in Europe. However, they need to gather consistency fast.

Valletta threatened Balzan after nine minutes. Bojan Kaljevic drilled a low shot from distance that was neutralised by Kristijan Naumovski.

Balzan hit back five minutes later. Alfred Effiong fired a shot from outside the penalty area that sailed wide.

Bojan Kaljevic could have opened the score for Valletta on the 18th minute. From a corner, Nicholas Pulis sent a cross that filtered through Balzan’s defence in the direction of the unmarked Montenegrin who finished over from close range.

On the other end, Arthur Faria Machado squared the ball towards Effiong and the latter saw his shot being saved by Henry Bonello.

Valletta broke the deadlock through a controversial penalty on the 32nd minute. Kaljevic’s shot from a free-kick hit the wall and rolled into the path of Steve Borg. Naumovski rushed forward and cleared the ball. However, the referee judged the goalkeeper’s actions to be irregular and signalled for a penalty. Mario Fontanella stepped up and converted.

Balzan tried to react and threatened Valletta on the 45th minute. Effiong played the ball in the direction of Ljubomirac whose shot from inside the penalty area was saved by Bonello.

Bozovic equalised for Balzan seconds later. Steve Pisani’s delivery from a corner was met by the Serbian who headed the ball inside the net.

Valletta started the second half eager to regain the lead and went close on the 50th minute. Kaljevic fired a powerful shot from outside the penalty area that forced a good save from Balzan’s goalkeeper.

Darren Abdilla's side increased the pressure and lost a great chance on the 63rd minute. Miguel Angel Alba’s delivery went towards Fontanella who headed the ball marginally wide.

Two minutes later, Alba’s shot from a free-kick was parried by Kaljevic.

Fontanella lost another golden opportunity on the 67th minute. Kaljevic won the ball deep inside Balzan’s half before passing it towards the unmarked forward. The Italian had all the time to put the ball inside the net; however, he failed to hit the target.

A minute later, Fontanella was a protagonist again as his diagonal shot was saved by Naumovski.

An incident took place on the 76th minute as Valletta were awarded another penalty since Naumovski brought down Fontanella. Uros Ljubomirac approached the referee aggressively and was shown a straight red card. The referee kept the cards in his hand and also sent off Balzan’s goalkeeper after showing him his second yellow card. This brought harsh protests from Balzan and the game had to stop for around five minutes.

The match resumed on the 81st minute and Fontanella kept his composure to convert another penalty and send Valletta ahead once again.

Debutant Shinobu Adeseyi could have equalised for Balzan on the 89th minute. The American player received the ball inside the penalty area and finished wide despite none of his opponents were challenging him.

Fontanella sealed Valletta’s win by completing his hat-trick a minute later. Jhony Moises Barrios drilled a low cross from the right into the path of Fontanella who slotted the ball inside the net.

Valletta starting line-up: Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Ryan Camilleri, Santiago Malano(Miguel Angel Alba-57), Bojan Kaljevic, Matteo Piciollo (Jhony Moises Barrios-66), Shaun Dimech, Jean Borg, Enmy Pena Beltre, Nicholas Pulis, Mario Fontanella (Joseph Zerafa-90)

Balzan starting line-up: Kristijan Naumovki, Nenad Sljivic, Steven Pisani, Michael Johnson, Paul Fenech, Alfred Effiong (Dale Camilleri-72), Uros Ljubomirac, Ivan Bozovic, Stefan Dimic (Sean Mintoff-81), Arthur Faria Machado (Shinobu Adeseyi-54), Samir Arab

Referee: Philip Farrugia

Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Ivan Galea

Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann

BOV Player of the Match: Mario Fontanella (Valletta)