Valletta strenghten grip on second place with win over Balzan

Substitute Lateef Elford Alliyu was the hero for his team coming on and notching the winner as Valletta ran out 1-0 winners over Balzan.

The English striker scored into the second half but star man for Valletta was stand in keeper Nicky Vella who, having conceded a penalty, made amends by saving Elkin Serrano's effort from the spot.

With this win, Valletta have further strengthened their grip on second place as they are now five points clear of Birkirkara who face champions Hibernians tomorrow.

 Balzan were missing important players in the form of Bojan Kaljevic, Gianmarco Piccioni and Oscar Guerrero, all injured,

However this was just balzan’s first defeat after six wins with Oliver Spiteri’s men securing fourth place and qualification for the Europa League last weekend with a victory over Hibernians.

Valletta were the better team through the first 45 minutes but failed to open the score despite creating a few goal scoring opportunities.

After 16 Valletta threatened to break open the score when Hamza Barry made his way  into the Balzan box with speed but his good effort moved against the base of the far post.

Balzan maintained their cautious approach to the game but managed to create a good move with the tireless Bezzina making his way forward on the left flank before playing it towards Edison Zarate who in the end lost possession of the ball.

Three minutes past the half-hour, Nafti had a free kick taken pushed away by Chris Cassar.

At the other end, Dylan Grima shot high after Valletta had failed to clear Justin Grioli's corner.

After a quiet start to the second half, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza  ran through the opponents’ defense to meet on to Guobadia's delicious pass from the back but the ex International striker was ruled offside

A few moments later Balzan had a great opportunity to move in front. Zarate sent in a dangerous cross from the left but Luke Dimech was alert to flick the ball away from Grima. The loose ball rolled towards the unmarked Micallef but his effort had no direction to seriously trouble Vella.
Valletta opened the scoring when in trying on meet Briffa's lurking ball into the box, Barry's strike came off the far post with the ball ending at Lateef’s feet who calmly pushed the ball into the net.

Balzan issued a reminder of their offensive threat as Grima hit just wide after bursting clear on the right but, 13 minutes from time, the Reds had a golden chance to equalise. 

Vella gave away a penalty after he was adjudged to have brought down Guobadia in the box. 

The Valletta goalkeeper made up for his playing offence as he produced an excellent save to push away Elkin Serrano's penalty kick and to ward off Zarate's follow-on attempt.

BOV Man of the Match: Hamza Barry

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