Birkirkara 2
Haruna 72; Matheus 87;
Balzan 1
Pereira 4;

Birkirkara scored a controversial winning goal last night when Matheus Bissi da Silva hit in from close distance with Balzan protesting heavily as they contended the ball had not crossed the line.

There was a melee inside the Balzan box with keeper Daniel Miguelez Martinez looking to have saved the shot from the Birkirkara defender but, maybe, he was a second too late and the referee convalided the goal.

So, the champions succeeded in turning defeat into victory as they were losing 1-0 less than 20 minutes to go.

The result may seem harsh on Balzan even though Birirkara had done most of the running and attacked relentlessly after Rodrigo Pereira’s early opener.

After only four minutes Pereira’s glancing header, following a Dylan Grima free-kick, put Balzan in front.

Birkirkara were stunned and almost conceded a second when Mark Spiteri anticipated keeper Justin Haber but overhit his shot and the ball rolled inches wide of goal.

Birkirkara first real threat at goal in the opening half came on 35 minutes when a Paul Fenech drive was neutralised by goalkeeper Martinez.

Two minutes before the break a Demba Toure free-kick was stopped by the Balzan custodian and a minute later Haruna Shola’s grounder from 25 metres out finished wide.

On resumption, Birkirkara introduced Frank Temile and the champions came out searching for an equaliser. An Edward Herrera cross shot was intercepted in time by the Balzan custodian. From the rebound, it was Martinez again who turned the ball away for a corner.

Temile had to abandon the pitch earlier than anticipated but with 18 minutes left the Stripes finally levelled the scores as Haruna headed home from a Herrera corner.

Paul Zammit’s men were all over Balzan now and a Herrera volley brought the best out of Martinez.

At the other end, Pereira was close to shocking the Stripes again when from a Firas Aboulezz delivery he headed just over the bar.

Balzan looked good enough to preserve the point they were hoping to get in the end but then came that controversial Matheus goal to shatter their dreams.

D. Miguelez Martinez, F. Aboulezz, S. Bezzina, G. Calabretta (84 E. Beu), D. Grima, J. Grioli, J. Negrin (59 L. Micallef), R. Pereira, A. Scicluna, M. Spiteri, F. Vignaroli.

J. Haber, T. Vella (46 F. Temile, 60 R. Scicluna), Z. Muscat, J. Zerafa, M. Bissi Da Silva, P. Fenech (86 R. Camenzuli,) G. Sciberras, R. Muscat, S. Haruna Shola, E. Herrera, D. Toure.

Referee: Glenn Tonna.

Yellow cards: Calabretta, Fenech.

BOV Player of the match: Edward Herrera (Birkirkara).

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