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Balzan see off Gudja United to step up top-four charge



Nogureira 31


G. Zammit-6, J. Bolanos-5, A. Prates-5, V. Plut-4, S. Attard-5.5 (60 T. Nagamatsu-4), J. Arthur-6, K. Micallef-5, H. Vella-5, N. Tabone-4, M. Muchardi-4, N. Navarette-6.


R. Briffa-6, I. Bozovic-7, S. Arab-6 (84 B. Mladenovic), M. Grima-6.5, P. Fenech-6, Y. Torres-7, N. Zerjal-5 (43 D. Torres-6), A. Satariano-6 (70 A. Bradshaw), M. Raso-6, M. De Sousa-7 (70 B. Kaljevic), A. Andrejic-6.

Referee: Philip Farrugia.

Yellow card: Zerjal, Bolanos, Vella.

BOV player of the match: Matheus de Sousa Nogureira (Balzan)

Mattheus de Sousa Nogureira’s first-half goal was enough for Balzan to claim a deserved win over Gudja.

Andrea Agostinelli’s side had very few chances as Oliver Spiteri’s team were good value for their win.

Balzan played neat, attractive football and particularly in the first half, stroking the ball around with nonchalant ease.

Gudja lacked their usual assurance in defence and seemed tense on the ball as they chased an equaliser.

With this second consecutive win, Balzan have reignited their charge towards a possible European berth as they climb to fifth in the standings alongside Mosta.

An open start to the match almost culminated in a goal inside the first 12 minutes.

From an Aleksa Andrejic free-kick, Matheus headed goalwards but Glenn Zammit blocked his effort.

Balzan looked confident with Yesid Torres and Marcus Grima superbly passing the ball through midfield. Soon after, Alexander Satariano latched onto an astute pass from Torres, the striker slipped into Gudja’s penalty area but was prevented from scoring by the legs of goalkeeper Glenn Zammit.

Nikola Zerjal whipped in a cross for Matheus but this time his header down lacked the power to trouble Zammit.

Shy the half hour mark, Shaisen Attard’s delivery from corner into the heart of the box caused panic in the Balzan defence. And after the ball travelled to the far post, Andrè Prates could only sidefoot wide from point-blank range.

But Gudja fell behind in the 31st minute when Satariano escaped Matias Muchardi’s attention, motored into the area before flicking the ball into the path of Matheus who fired a low shot into an empty net.

The second half started in similar fashion, Balzan looking bright in the early exchanges as Spiteri’s men once again stamped their authority on the match.

Tatsuro Nagamatsu’s introduction for Attard added extra zip to their attack and almost immediately drew the first save of the game from Rudy Briffa, the Balzan goalkeeper, when his half-volley from Nicolas Navarrete cross drew the keeper into action.

Although, Balzan endured some nervy moments, with Navarrete proving a real thorn in the Balzan defence, they managed to threaten again on 75 minutes but Torres’s inswinger was punched away by Zammit.

Gudja pushed forward for an equaliser, creating several half-chances but despite the introduction of Nagamatsu, they lacked penetration.

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