FA Trophy | Valletta 2 – Balzan 1

Despite playing the second half with ten men, Valletta will face Birkirkara in the final of the FA Trophy as two goals in the space of two minutes gave them a 2-1 win over Balzan.

Photo: Christine Borg
Photo: Christine Borg

The Maltese champions were the best team in the pitch during the first half and managed to threaten Balzan on a number of occasions. On the other hand, Balzan seemed disoriented and failed to test Henry Bonello.

Valletta created the first opportunity of the match on the 14th minute. Miguel Angle Alba fired a shot from a free-kick that was neutralised by Sean Mintoff.

Mintoff denied Alba again two minutes later. The Argentinian midfielder hit a thumping shot from distance that was tipped behind by Balzan’s custodian.

The Citizens kept on insisting and went close again on the 28th minute. Alba’s cross from a free-kick was met by Ibrahim Saleh whose close range header ended up slightly wide.

Valletta were denied by the post on the 34th minute. Alba attempted a shot that was blocked. The ball went into the path of Matteo Picciolo and the latter saw his powerful effort hitting the upright.

Balzan started the second half looking to improve their performance and create chances on goal. They went close on the 46th minute when Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes hit a shot that was saved by Bonello.

Valletta suffered a set-back on the 48th minute as they were reduced to ten men. Steve Borg was given his marching orders after being shown his second yellow card of the match.

Marko Micovic’s side had another chance on the hour mark. Alfred Effiong was played through on goal, but failed to hit the target.

Balzan forged ahead on the 68th minute. Bonello failed to neutralise Effiong’s shot and the ball fell for Da Paixao Alves who placed it inside the net from close range.

Two minutes later, Da Paxao Alves played Kadu through on goal, but the Brazilian finished wide with just Bonello to beat.

Valletta equalised on the 80th minute. Saleh was floored inside the penalty area and the referee ordered a penalty. From the eleven metres mark, substitute Denni Rocha Dos Santos converted.

Danilo Doncic’s side scored the winning goal two minutes later. Picciolo received the ball from Salah before hitting a stunning shot from the right side of the penalty that gave Mintoff no chance.

Balzan tried to get back in the game during the remaining minutes; however, they found a strong Valletta defence in their way as the latter held firm to seal their place in the final of the FA Trophy.

Valletta starting line-up: Henry Bonello, Miguel Angel Alba (Denni Rocha Dos Santos- 73), Steve Borg, Ryan Camilleri, Santiago Malano, Rowen Muscat (Juan Gill Cruz- 54), Kyrian Nwoko (Jean Borg- 84), Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre, Matteo Picciolo, Ibrahim Saleh, Joseph Zerafa

Balzan starting line-up: Sean Mintoff, Steve Bezzina, Ivan Bozovic (Justin Grioli- 70), Alfred Effiong, Paul Fenech, Carlos Eduardo De Fiori Mendes (Ryan Fenech- 77), Milos Lepovic (Siraj Arab- 86), Michael Johnson, Bojan Kaljevic, Alex De Paixao Alves, Valero Elkin Serrano

Referee: Clayton Pisani

Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Luke Portelli

Additional Assistant Referees: Stefan Pace, Ismael Barbara

Fourth Official: Glen Tonna