BOV Premier League | Birkirkara 1 – Balzan 3

Birkirkara’s unbeaten run came to an end as they suffered a 3-1 defeat the hands of Balzan.

Alex Da Paixao Alves of Balzan in action. Photo: Christine Borg
Alex Da Paixao Alves of Balzan in action. Photo: Christine Borg

The second match at the National Stadium was a much awaited clash between Birkirkara and Balzan. This match was an important one for both sides. After losing two points against Gżira, Balzan were looking to beat the stripes in order to remain first. On the other hand, Birkirkara wanted a win in order to consolidate their position as one of the top three sides.

Paul Zammit made two changes to the team that edged past Lija Athletic. Walder Jesus Acosta Ferreira and Jake Grech made way for Ognjen Rolovic and Carlos Alberto Da Silva Goncalves Junior.

On the other hand, Marko Micovic made just one change to the team that was held by Gżira. Milos Lepovic replaced the suspended Bojan Kaljevic.

Balzan were the better side during the first half. Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes was always prominent in all their attacks. In fact, it seemed that Birkirkara’s defence could not contain him.

The Premier League leaders made a flying start to the match as they forged ahead after eleven minutes. De Fiori Mendes delivered a low cross towards Milos Lepovic who slotted the ball past Kristijan Naumovski.

On the 17th minute, De Fiori Mendes sent Alfred Effiong through on goal, but the latter was anticipated by Naumovski before he could shoot.

Birkirkara hit back on the 22nd minute. Carlos Alberto Da Silva Goncalves Junior delivered the ball towards Srdan Dimitrov whose effort went wide.

The post denied Balzan from scoring again on the 26th minute. De Fiori Mendes sent a shot from a free-kick that hit the upright.

Two minutes later, De Fiori Mendes sent another excellent through ball towards Effiong. Naumovski rushed out of his position and brought down the Maltese International outside of the penalty area. Balzan’s players and supporters protested harshly for a red card; however, the referee opted for a yellow card.

From the resulting free-kick, De Fiori Mendes delivered a ball in the direction of Uros Ljubomirac whose effort was saved by Naumovski.

Birkirkara replied on the 39th minute. Kurt Zammit delivered a cross towards Fernando Barbosa Pereira whose header was neutralised by Ivan Janjusevic.

Balzan regrouped and went close again a minute later. Following a corner, Naumovski failed to neutralise the ball. From the rebound, Effiong’s shot took a deflection off a defender and went out for a corner.

Micovic’s side remained the best team throughout the second half and managed to score two more goals.

Balzan doubled their lead on the 49th minute. Alex Da Paixao Alves sent a pass from the left towards the unmarked De Fiori Mendes who placed the ball past Naumovski.

Naumovski denied Balzan from scoring again on the 55th minute. Following a fast counter, Ljubomirac sent a pass in the direction of Da Paixao Alves. The Brazilian fired a shot on goal, but saw his effort being saved by Birkirkara’s shot stopper.

Birkirkara finally threatened Balzan on the 65th minute. Kurt Zammit delivered a cross towards Ognjen Rolovic and the latter forced a great save from Janjusevic.

Effiong sealed the issue for Balzan on the 74th minute. The thirty-three year old striker received the ball from Justin Grioli and finished home from close range.

Birkirkara pulled one back on the 88th minute. Jake Grech squared the ball for Ryan Scicluna who managed to put the ball behind Sean Mintoff.

However, this was too late for Birkirkara as Balzan remained solid to take home three precious points.

Birkirkara starting line-up: Kristijan Naumovski, Edward Herrera, Fernando Barbosa Pereira, Mislav Andelkovic, Kurt Zammit, Ognjen Rolovic (Gianluca Zammit- 83), Nikola Vukanac, Carlos Alberto Da Sailva Goncalves Junior, Srdan Dimitrov (Jake Grech- 54), Ryan Scicluna, Cain Attard (Ayrton Attard – 83)

Balzan starting line-up: Ivan Janjusevic (Sean Mintoff- 76), Uros Ljubomirac, Alfred Effiong, Elkin Orlando Serrano Valero, Paul Fenech, Ivan Bozovic (Justin Grioli- 63), Michael Johnson, Steve Bezzina, Alex Da Paixao Alves (Siraj Eddin Arab- 73), Milos Lepovic, Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes

Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann

Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Jurgen Spiteri

Additional Assistant Referees: Mario Apap, Philip Farrugia

Fourth Official: Dusan Petrovic

Yellow Cards: Edward Herrera (Birkirkara), Alfred Effiong (Balzan), Michael Johnson (Balzan), Kristijan Naumovski (Birkirkara), Ivan Bozovic (Balzan), Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes (Balzan)

BOV Player of the Match: Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes (Balzan)

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