I.Kone; F. Apap, K. Shaw, J. Degabriele, B. Kristensen, Z. Grech (70 R. Bairam), A. Bruno (70 S. Okoh), C. Bonanni (76 G. Artiles), G. Bastianos, R. Antwi, L. Henrique (59 A. Hovhannisyan).
D. Golovic; I. Bozovic, S. Arab, T. Caruana, J. Grech (90 B. Hili, R. Michibuchi, N. Braunovic, M. Raso, L. De Souza (79 D. Awosanya), A. Andrejic (74 M. Grima), P. Olawale (79 A. Katanic).
Referee Andrea Sciriha.
Yellow cards Apap, Bozovic, Olawale, Kristensen.
An impressive shift by goalkeeper Danilo Golovic helped Balzan clinch three precious points over Hibernians in Sunday’s encounter.
The Serbian custodian produced a string of crucial saves to keep the Paolites at bay while Oliver Spiteri’s side snatched the win with two second-half goals.
The Reds are now one point away from fourth-placed Marsaxlokk, with nine points after five outings in this campaign.
On the other hand, Hibernians sunk to their third defeat in five league games as they remain on six points.
Inside the opening four minutes, Luiz Henrique squandered a glorious opportunity to put Hibernians ahead when he failed to find the back of the net from point-blank range.
The Paolites were dictating proceedings while Balzan looked to catch their opponents on the break with Oliver Spiteri’s side threatening through Leonardo De Souza just to see Ibrahim Kone denying him.
Balzan’s Danilo Golovic came to the rescue for his side when Giannis Bastianos let fly a brilliant freekick but the Serbian goalkeeper managed to keep the danger away.
Moments later, Jurgen Degabriele was at the end of a well-engineered move but his curling effort was not enough to beat Golovic.
Hibernians remained the most dangerous team on the field, this time with Rodney Antwi coming close to finding the net but once again Golovic proved tough to beat from close range.
Balzan thought they had drawn first blood against the run of play but their celebrations were cut short by Sciriha.
Ryohey Michibuchi’s effort was blocked by Kone with Ivan Bozovic pouncing on the rebound, finding De Souza on the penalty spot who fired past the Hibernians’ goalkeeper.
However, the match official had already halted the play, issuing a yellow card to Balzan’s Bozovic for allegedly simulating to win a penalty just before De Souza fired past Kone to the protests of the Balzan clan.
Hibernians’ Kurt Shaw failed to connect properly with the ball from a free-kick situation as the Paolites were looking to regain momentum in this match.
After the exchange of ends, Balzan came close to finding the net through Aleksa Andrejic but could not beat Kone with his effort from outside the penalty area.
Hibernians replied through Degabriele but once again the Paolites could not beat an inspired Golovic who kept Balzan in the game time and time again.
Their missed chances came back to haunt them as it was Balzan who broke the deadlock, with Japanese winger Michibuchi capitalising on Jake Grech’s cross from inside the small area.
Golovic denied Shaw with a double save from a corner-kick situation as Hibernians started to pile the pressure on Balzan.
Substitute Samuel Okoh fired a great volley from long-range just to see his effort glance past Golovic’s goal.
Nonetheless, it was Balzan who scored the game’s next goal to wrap up the win with substitute Dimeji Awosanya who made the most of a positive transition to beat Kone and slot into the empty net.
GZIRA UNITED 1
GZIRA UNITED D. Zarkov, F. Romero, C. Conceicao, M. Dias, Thiaguinho, A. Borg (46 Ewertton), J. Mendoza, Z. Scerri, Thaylor, A. Sane (46 B. Borg), Macula (86 B. Azizi).
SIRENS A. Cassar, S. Borg (76 J. Hinestroza), N. Pulis, A. Cini, C. Agyemang, H. Akadom (90 D. Agius), T. Bettim (86 F. Boateng), P. Owusu, K. Donsu, N. Guylherme, D. Jackson (76 M. Moro).
Referee Matthew Degabriele.
Yellow cards Chaba, Dias, Thiaguinho, Thaylor.
Missed pen. Macula (Gzira United 82).
Red card Thiaguinho (Gzira United 82).
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