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Balzan pile more misery on Hibernians to step up Euro charge

Balzan's Angel Torres (left) tries to get through the Hibernians defence. Photo: Christine Borg


Muritala 71


Raso 60, Nogureira 72

HIBERNIANS J. Haber-5, K. Shaw-6, G. Llerena-6, J. Grech-5.5, J. Degabriele-5, D. Vella-5 (77 B. Kristensen), Z. Grech-6 (68 Thaylor), G. Mensah (15 J. Florencio-6), G. Artiles-5, O. Muritala-6, A. Diakate-6.

BALZAN R. Briffa-6, I. Bozovic-6.5, D. Torres-7, S. Arab-6, M. Grima-6, P. Fenech-6.5, A. Torres-6 (90 B. Mladenovic), M. Raso-6.5, Matheus-6 (75 C. Ndinga), A. Andrejic-6, B. Kaljevic-7 (61 A. Satariano-6)

Referee Fyodor Zammit.

Yellow cards Arab, Torres, Bozovic, Fenech.

BOV player of the match Bojan Kaljevic (Balzan).

Balzan made a tremendous second-half reaction to earn a 2-1 win over Hibernians, condemning Andrea Pisanu’s side to a fourth defeat in five Premier League matches.

The Reds, sensing an opportunity to prey on a below-par Hibs side and boost their hopes of European football, were much more progressive after the restart to draw first blood through Momcilo Raso.

But the shape of the game altered dramatically around the 71st minute when Hibernians fell to 60-second sucker punch when conceding a goal immediately after equalising.

Balzan have now win four out of their last five matches to climb fifth in the table, one adrift of Mosta and level on points with Hibernians.

On 13 minutes, Samir Arab sent Jurgen Degabriele crashing to end Hibernians’ first serious venture towards the Balzan area.

The striker picked himself up to hit a delightful right-foot strike beyond the wall which Rudy Briffa tipped over the bar.

A minute later, Andrea Pisanu was forced into his first substitution as Gabriel Mensah was taken off with a tight hamstring and was replaced by debutant Joao Vitor de Oliveira Florencio.

Jake Grech provided an inviting cross for Owolabi Muritala after 27 minutes but he hit the ball off target with Balzan’s defence unlocked.

Hibernians had a foothold in the game without putting Balzan’s defence under concerted pressure.

At the other end, the Reds forced a series of flag-kicks which however failed to yield anything tangible.

Hibs had one final opportunity as the half-time break approached, but Degabriele, shot well over the top.

The Paolites struggled to create clear-cut opportunities after the break, but their goalkeeper Justin Haber had to be alert on 54 minutes when Angel Torres fired a loose ball over the bar.

Balzan did take the lead on the hour mark through Raso. Torres’s header hit the woodwork but the Macedonian defender was on hand to nod home the rebound.

Hibernians were level less than 10 minutes later thanks to Muritala. Florencio played the ball towards the Nigerian striker who raced clear and slotted the ball behind Briffa.

Hibs’ joy was short-lived as substitute Alexander Satariano cleverly flicked the ball with his outstep to set up Mattheus who masterfully drove the ball home.

This setback understandably knocked the stuffing out of Hibernians who failed to muster a proper response.

With time ebbing away for Hibs to get something from the game, Muritala fired over the bar from close-range.

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