Bueno hits brace as Tarxien down Balzan in thriller
Camilleri 52; Elton 72, 90;
Tarxien Rainbows 4
Evaldo 2; Andrezinho 9; Bueno 65, 82;
Tarxien Rainbows faded badly after the brightest of starts when they looked home and dry as they were 2-0 up at half-time. Then, the goals flowed freely after the break as Balzan produced a late rally, inspired by the clinical Elton, to spark an enthralling finale.
The industrious Balzan had given as much as they got but Brazilian Daniel Mariano Bueno struck twice in the second half to give Tarxien a dramatic 4-3 win.
Thanks to this success, the Rainbows have strengthened their hold on fourth place in the standings, two points adrift of Birkirkara and Valletta, as Clive Mizzi’s men maintained their push for a place in the Championship Pool.
On their part, Balzan, whose bold comeback fell just short, were simply left to reflect on a season of ups and downs. Yesterday, they failed to show that they have the quality to reproduce last season’s achievement when the Reds managed to erase their relegation fears early by claiming a slot in the Championship Pool.
Suspension deprived Balzan coach Ivan Zammit of his main creative force in Pedrinho. Malcolm Licari and Elton were tasked with leading Balzan’s attack. Bjorn Bondin replaced the injured Dylan Grima in midfield.
There was no place for Justin Grioli in Tarxien’s starting XI as Mizzi preferred Steve Sadowksi at right-back as while midfielder Mark Tanti also earned a first-team recall.
Tarxien’ tactical module was4-2-3-1 with Andrezinho, Tanti and Bueno operating behind Danilo, the lone striker.
Stationed in front of Tarxien’s four-man defence, Orosco Anonam and Roderick Bajada were detailed to limit the threat posed by the roaming Jamie Pace who was pushed upfield in the absence of Pedrinho.
The game had just started when Balzan’s Jacob Borg sent Bueno tumbling to the ground as Tarxien made their first venture towards the opposing area after just 70 seconds.
Andrezinho sent in a perfect cross to Evaldo who headed the ball in from close range. The Brazilian’s early goal set the tone for the match as the Tarxien players ran with far greater confidence that any of their opponents from the first whistle.
Fredrick Tabone’s goal was breached again eight minutes later. In a devastating counter-attack, Danilo strode forward on the left and served Andrezinho who swept past the on-rushing goalkeeper and poked the ball into the unguarded net.
Two goals down, Zammit was forced into his first substitution just past the 20th-minute mark as Stefan Giglio limped off after suffering an injury. The Balzan mentor moved to strengthen his team’s attacking prowess with the introduction of a striker, newcomer Rodrigo de Barres Consani as Renato Conceicao pushed up in midfield.
Balzan were expected to hit back and storm the Tarxien area but their tame pressure only yielded an attempt by Elton which was punched away by goalkeeper David Cassar after 28 minutes.
Just before half-time, Tanti should have applied the killer blow when Danilo freed him in the box but the midfielder dragged his effort wide.
After their early two-goal salvo, Tarxien unwisely opted to sit back after the break. Balzan started to push forward in a bid to get back into contention.
Elton dashed into the area and shrugged off the challenge of Ryan Sammut. The Brazilian’s rising shot appeared to be flying dangerously towards goal but Cassar leapt to touch the ball away via the crossbar two minutes after the restart.
Five minutes later, defender Yessous Camilleri gave his side a lifeline in somewhat bizarre circumstances. Licari was hit in the face by the ball from an off-target shot by Matthew Mendy and Camilleri pounced to scramble the ball into the net.
Tarxien kept a cool head and another sweeping attacking move followed. Danilo used his speed and agility to unhinge the Balzan defence before directing a pass to substitute David Fenech who jinked his way through but sent the ball wide of the far post.
In next to no time, the Rainbows restored their two-goal lead when Andrezinho played a perfect pass to Bueno whose diagonal run took him past his marker before he beat Tabone with a precise shot.
Yet, Elton was again in the thick of things as he pulled one back for Balzan, jumping to head the ball home from De Barros Consani’s corner six minutes later.
Oozing confidence after finding the net, Bueno was Tarxien’s most effective player, his surging runs keeping the Balzan defenders on their toes.
Eight minutes from time, Danilo cut up the Balzan defence with a through-ball to Bueno who ran through before beating Tabone with a low shot.
The last chance fell to Elton as he rifled the ball past the diving Cassar from outside the area to narrow Balzan’s deficit to one goal.
In the closing moments, Balzan felt hard done by referee Adrian Azzopardi’s decision not to give them a penalty after Elton appeared to have been impeded by Sadowski.
F. Tabone-5, Y. Camilleri-6, S. Giglio (23 R. De Barros Consani-7), M. Mendy-6, R.Conceicao-6, R. Forace-5, B. Bondin-5 (71 C. Caruana), J. Pace-7, Elton-8, M. Licari-5, J. Borg-4 (33 J. Francica-5).
D. Cassar-6.5, Evaldo-6, S. Sadowski-5, R. Bajada-5, Danilo-7.5, Andrezinho-7 (88 L. R. De Castro), R. Sammut-5, M. Tanti-6 (61 D. Fenech-5), D.M. Bueno- 8.5, O. Anonam-6.5 (58 M. Caruana-5), S. Bonnici-5.
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi.
Yellow cards: Sammut; Bondin; Conceicao; Pace; Francica; Elton; Sadowski.
BOV player of the match: Daniel Mariano Bueno (Tarxien).