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Balzan sighed with relief yesterday as they beat Gudja to earn three precious points which have enabled them to move to a safer place in the standings.

A Ricardo Correa strike in the 39th minute gave them a half-time lead. Steve Pisani completed the scoring near the end of the match.

Balzan now have 25 points, and lie four points above Gudja in the standings.

Play in the first half was rather mediocre with the action restricted mostly to midfield.

Balzan were slightly superior and deserved to go for a rest leading by a single goal. They created most of the few opportunities that were created.

Despite having to relinquish any hold on midfield, Gudja had a few opportunities to make an impact, but they failed and had to pay dearly as Balzan took the lead before the interval.

In the second half, Gudja improved considerably as they went on the offensive in search of an equaliser.

But Balzan defended well and although Gudja were unlucky on one occasion when a Cremona shot hit the upright, their opponents failed to take the few chances which came their way.

Even when Winchester advanced unhindered just before Balzan scored their second goal, he fluffed the chance as goalie Naumovski denied him with a splendid block.

Gudja missed a glaring opportunity to open the scoring on the 6th minute when Winchester set Zarate in the Balzan area; the latter crossed and Jimenez, all alone, missed the ball when it appeared that an easy header would have made the trick.

On 17 minutes, from a Grioli freekick, Montebello almost committed an own goal, but his backward header was turned to corner with difficulty by goalie Naumovski.

Balzan’s first effort arrived on 20 minutes – a Steve Pisani weak shot which was easily saved easily by goalie Zammit.

In the 28th minute, from a Bozovic cross, the ball was cleared to the unmarked Fenech who, however, lifted his volley well over the bar.

Balzan protested in vain for a penalty in the 38th minute when Effiong went past two defenders in the area and might have been floored, but Mr. Farrugia Cann, close to the action, ignored their pleas and waved play on.

Soon after, however, Balzan opened the scoring. Effiong set Correa in the Gudja area and the latter made no mistake as Zammit rushed out to narrow the angle.

At the other end, Gudja missed a good chance to equalise when following a bad defensive clearance, Jurgen Farrugia completely miskicked his effort, the ball finishing near the corner flag.

In the 44th minute, Gudja goalie Zammit had to dive sideways to save an Effiong grounder.

Gudja opened the second half on attack and Winchester went on a solo run which ended with his final shot going just wide.

Gudja thought they had equalised in the 73rd minute when Cremona saw his fine rising shot hitting the far upright with Naumovski beaten and there was Winchester to fire the ball into the unguarded net. But the point was disallowed for an offside infringement.

Gudja had Imanol Gonzalez sent off in the 84th minute, but despite having a man less, they threatened seriously to equalise when Winchester advanced unhindered in the Balzan area, but his effort was miraculously blocked by the onrushing Naumovski.

Soon after Balzan assured themselves of the three points with a good goal from Steven Pisani on 87 minutes. He received a good pass from Dimic and hit home a fine shot from the edge of the area.

BOV player of the match: I.Bozovic (Balzan)


Match report: Henry Brincat (Malta Independent)




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