Glenn Bonello brace ends Luxol’s hopes

Balzan……5

Luxol…….3

(H.T 2-1)

Aggregate score: 8-5.

Balzan kept their hopes alive for a double after seeing off a mighty Luxol side 5-3 to reach the final stage of the FXDD Premier Division Play-offs.

It was an exciting match as usual between two teams that impressed so much in the league.

Having installed a narrow 3-2 advantage in the first leg, Balzan were keen to extend their margin but the team led by Florin Anton were greatly organized in defence trying to allow to the minimum their opponents’ attacks.

Drama was instilled in the final four minutes of the game as Luxol scored twice to level matters but super-sub Glenn Bonello was quick to react with two great goals.

Balzan created their first goal scoring occasion on six minutes through Emil Raducu whose shot was greatly repelled by Luxol’s keeper Adrian Attard.

Three minutes later it was Giancarlo Sammut who was unlucky when he hit the post.

William Barbosa, who was marked closely by the Balzan defenders, passed to Frendo whose low drive was well saved by Farrugia.

On 13 minutes Gabriel Dobre’s shot finished wide.

Luxol were defending boldly their opponents attacks with Florin Anton and Dean Gera being continuously busy.

On 14 minutes Emeka’s close shot was saved by Balzan keeper Farrugia.

Two minutes later, Balzan broke the deadlock when Emil Raducu struck a fierce shot from outside the box that left Attard surprised.

On 18 minutes, Luxol managed to level matters when Balzan’s former player Basil Emeka Onuta hit the target with a low shot.

11 seconds from the break, Balzan regained the advantage when Clint Cope received from Jovica Milijic to poke the ball past Attard.

In the second half, Balzan managed to make them three when Clint Cope put his player-coach Gabriel Dobre in a position to score from a close range.

The latter was unlucky to hit the post two minutes later after a good work by Andrea Dan.

Time was passing by and everything looked as if Balzan were heading for a comfortable qualification.

But four minutes from the end in the space of 40 seconds Luxol pulled two goals back.

First it was George Frendo who took advantage of a defensive blunder to make  it 3-2. Then William Barbosa hit a fierce shot that gave no chance to Matthew Xerxen to restore parity.

At this point, Luxol needed another goal to take the match into extra-time but super-sub Glenn Bonello regained a double advantage for Balzan when he struck two quick goals to make it 5-3 and put his team into the  final for the second consecutive year.

Balzan: Nicholas Farrugia, Gabriel Dobre, Andrea Dan, Glenn Bonello, Carlos Scicluna, Matthew Xerxen, Giancarlo Sammut, Christian Wismayer, Nicola del Re, Jovica Milijic, Rennie Tanti, Emil Raducu, Clint Cope.

Luxol: Dale Camilleri, Dean Gera, William Barbosa, George Frendo, Noel Bray, Adrian Attard, Basil Emeka Onuta, Florin Anton, Tarek Ibrahim, Bjorn Vassallo.

Referee 1: Franco Cachia

Referee 2: Pierre Bonnici

Referee 3: Robert Darmanin

Time-keeper: Stephanie Axiak