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Balzan fight back to beat Hotspurs and keep European dream alive

Balzan's Ivan Bozovic tries to break forward against Pieta Hotspurs. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

BALZAN                               3

Torres 45; Kaljevic 74; Ndinga 81

PIETA’ HOTSPURS          2

Hovhannisyan 1; Yamaguchi 28


J. Debono-6; I. Bozovic-6, S. Arab-6.5, M. Grima-6, B. Mladenovic-6.5, A. Torres-7, A. Satariano-6 (46 Z. Grech-6), N. Braunovic-6 (46 D. Ndinga-6.5), M. Raso-6, Matheus-6, A. Andrejic-6 (46 B. Kaljevic-7) (84 A. Bradshaw).


S. Moschin-7; S. Okoh-6.5, C. Bangura-6.5, O. Abraham-6.5, J. Ghio-6 (77 Marinho), T. Agius-6 (90 A. Wisyamer), A. Hovhannisyan-7, K. Leonardi-6, Z. Leonardi-6, G. Ogungbe-6.5, T. Yamaguchi-6.5.

Referee Trustin Farrugia Cann.

Yellow cards Yamaguchi, Bangura, K. Leonardi. 

BOV Player of the Match Delvin Ndinga (Balzan).

Balzan produced a strong second-half comeback to beat Pieta’ Hotspurs 3-2 and maintain their hopes of European football alive.

Oliver Spiteri’s side fell two goals down in the first half as the Hotspurs stunned them with two picture goals, early in the game.

However, Balzan flexed their muscles and their superiority came to the fore after the change of ends, with former Olympiacos midfielder Devin Ndinga proving to be their hero with the winning goal.

Balzan lift themselves to 33 points, five points adrift of third-place Birkirkara.

Pieta’, on their part, remain anchored at the bottom of the table with just five points to show for their efforts, despite putting up another brave performance.

The Hotspurs could not have asked for a better start when inside the first minute, Armen Hovhannisyan stunned Jonathan Debono with a delightful lob and put Rodney Bugeja’s side one up.

Balzan tried to fight back with Italian goalkeeper Simone Moschin denying both Matheus and Aleksa Andrejic.

Hovhannisyan squandered a glorious chance to double his side’s lead when after beating his marker, he could not slot the ball past Debono.

Nonetheless, the Hotspurs still managed to double their lead when Takuma Yamaguchi produced a picture goal. The Japanese winger controlled a well-weighted long ball onto his chest before volleying past Debono.

Balzan’s immediate reaction came through Angel Torres but his freekick sailed over. The Colombian player and Nikola Braunovic tested Moschin with further attempts but the Italian custodian was alert.

Just before the interval, Balzan crucially pulled a goal back.

After picking up the ball, Torres cut inside, beat a couple of opponents before letting fly a shot that was deflected onto the crossbar before ricocheting past the goal line.

After the break, Balzan made three substitutions including forward Bojan Kaljevic in an attempt to bolster the attacking department.

Bogdan Mladenovic forced Moschin into action with a long-range freekick before Hovhannisyan saw his close-range set-piece go wide.

Moschin continued to frustrate Balzan when this time he kept out Mladenovic’s effort.

However, Moschin was beaten on the 74th minute when substitute Kaljevic hit a well-struck freekick into the far post.

Substitute Delvin Ndinga, who came on for Balzan, hit the crossbar with a brilliant curling effort before Moschin denied Mladenovic with a brilliant save.

Moments later, though, Moschin could do nothing when Ndinga was successful with his second curling low drive to beat the Italian goalkeeper and complete Balzan’s comeback.

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