Malta Football Association
Convincing win for Balzan in Europa League qualifier
Jul 12, 2018
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Photos: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
Photos: Domenic Aquilina/MFA

  • Photos: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
  • Photos: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
  • Photos: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
  • Photos: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
  • Photos: Domenic Aquilina/MFA



Centenary Stadium, Ta’ Qali, Malta
First Qualifying Round – First Leg


BALZAN         4

(HT 3-1)

1-0 Effiong 12, 2-0 Lecao 21, 2-1 Meza (pen) 29, 3-1 Kaljevic 34, 4-1 Kadu 55.

The 2018/19 season began well for BOV Premier League runners-up Balzan as they beat Keshla FK, from Azerbaijan, 4-1 in the first leg of their Europa League qualifying round match at the Centenary Stadium. It was a convincing display from Marko Micovic’s men who were well prepared, physically and mentally, against tricky opponents to significantly boost their chances of advancing to the second qualifying round of the Europa League.

Balzan paraded two new signings in their starting line-up.


Goalkeeper Steve Sultana, who has been called up regularly to the national squad over the past months, made his Balzan debut after joining them from Ħamrun Spartans while experienced 33-year-old Serbian midfielder Nenad Sljivic signed for the Reds following a spell with FK Napredak.


Two other summer signings started on the bench – Uruguayan wing-back Ricardo Correa (formerly of Sliema Wanderers) and 20-year-old Serbian striker Andrija Majdevac who replaced Bojan Kaljevic late in the second half.


The first opportunity of the game arrived in the seventh minute. Balzan’s Brazilian winger Lecao could not finish off a good move involving Kaljevic and Alfred Effiong.


In the early stages, Balzan seemed to rely mostly on fast counter-attacks. They took the lead on 12 minutes following another good move with Effiong scoring with a precise finish.


Three minutes later, Tarlan Guliyev’s header from a free-kick just missed target for the visitors but it was Balzan who doubled their advantage on 20 minutes.


The Keshla defenders were found wanting as the ball reached Lecao who hit home from close in.


Nine minutes later, Keshla pulled one back from the penalty spot after Lecao was adjudged to have blocked a cross with his hands.


Paraguayan playmaker Cesar Meza Coll drilled his shot past goalkeeper Sultana.


Balzan regrouped immediately to restore their two-goal lead on 33 minutes, Kaljevic flicking home from point blank following a corner from the left.


Two minutes before the end of the first half, a long-distance shot from Milos Lepovic missed the target. Barely a minute later, the same Lepovic had another opportunity but his effort sailed over the crossbar.


Ten minutes into the second half, Balzan increased their lead with a wonderful effort from Cadu.


In the 66th minute, substitute Uros Ljubomirac could have scored a fifth goal for Balzan following a flowing attack but he just missed target with only the goalkeeper to beat.


Sultana kept Balzan’s advantage intact with two good saves in the 69th and 71st minutes.


A very encouraging performance and result for Balzan ahead of the second leg in Azerbaijan next Thursday.



S. Sultana, I. Bozovic, M. Johnson, S. Bezzina, E. Serrano, A.P. Lecao,  M. Lepovic, N. Sljivic, (R. Correa 85), Cadu, B. Kaljevic, (A. Majdevac 78), A. Effiong, (U. Ljubomirac 63).


K. Agayev, A. Salahli, S.C. Denis, T. Guliyev, S. Tashgin, (H. Tchami 84), S. Alkhasov, D. Bayramov, (M. Bosancic 60) E. Sohna, C. Meza Colli, V. Javadov, (M. Guliyev 63), A. Clennon.


Referee: Volen Chinkov (Bulgaria).


Attendance: 504


Yellow cards: Lepovic; Kadu; Bayramov; Sohna.




Meanwhile, Serbian side Radnicki Nis proved too strong for Gżira United, chalking up a 4-0 victory in the first leg of their Europa League first qualifying round match on Thursday night.


Nermin Haskic scored a second-half brace for Radnicki with the other goals coming from Radovan Pankov and substitute Marko Mrkic.


The second leg will be played this coming Thursday at the Centenary Stadium, kicking off at 18.00.

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