Gzira succumb to second defeat of the season
Gzira United 0 Balzan Y 1
3rd December 2022,The Centenary Stadium
Gzira United have lost their second match of the season after being beaten by Balzan by a solitary goal. This was a very frustrating and disappointing result for Gzira. The Maroons have missed a golden opportunity to continue reducing the gap with leaders Hamrun, after the Spartans unexpected defeat to Zebbug last weekend. Gzira’s loss has further proved costly, after all their main challengers won their respective matches this weekend. Hamrun have continued extending their lead on Gzira to nine points. Hibs have overtaken Gzira into second place and now lead Gzira with two points, while Birkirkara have drawn level with Gzira in third place. All these combination of results have contributed to the fact that the Maroons have now dropped from sole second place to joint third place and also being listed fourth in the table, due to a slightly better goal difference acquired by B’Kara, after their big win this weekend.
Gzira’s performance left much to be desired and one would have expected that after the international break, Gzira United FC would have been more revitalized and motivated to continue challenging for top place especially after Hamrun’s slip up last weekend, but this was not to be.
Gzira’s match with Balzan kicked off at noon at an unusual time along with the rest of the others matches of Match Day 12, to avoid clashes with the screening of the World Cup matches.
Gzira dominated possession for the majority of the match, while Balzan defended deeply and operated with counter- attacks and it was with one rare attack, that Balzan scored the only decisive goal of the match.
Gzira also failed to take advantage of the wind which was in their favour in the second half. Despite creating a number of chances and attempts on Balzan’s fort, Gzira lacked the killer instinct in front of goal, which proved decisive in a number of their wins this season.
Today’s match started off on a quiet note with both teams studying each other tactically. In the 9th minute Gzira created the first chance of the match, with a header by Maxuell Maia on target from within the penalty area and then Maia followed up with a shot on the 20th minute, both attempts being neutralized by Balzan’s keeper Debono. In between, Balzan’s Andrejic had two freekicks from the left flank which failed to create any particular danger for the Gzira defense.
In the 22nd minute a cross by Gzira’s Kolega from the left found De Assis’s header on target being well saved. This was a prelude to Balzan’s goal. Against the run of play, Balzan went ahead in the 29th minute, when from an Andrejic freekick from the left, Zlatkovic connected first-time with a lucky clip, to place the ball out of reach of Gzira’s keeper Zarkov.
In the 35th minute Gzira responded with a free kick which created havoc in the Balzan penalty area and another freekick by Gzira’s Pisani from the right in the 38th minute was saved with some difficulty by Balzan’s keeper. A header, by Gzira’s De Assis from a Kolega cross was also saved with difficulty. This brought the first half to a close.
Gzira started the second half attacking from right to left, with the wind in their favour but they did not maximise this advantage much. In fact, Gzira’s first chance came in the 64th minute. A canon ball freekick from Gzira’s Bohrer, was partially controlled by Balzan’s goalkeeper and from the rebound within the penalty area, De Assis placed just wide. Gzira’s De Assis continued threatening with another shot just wide, following a through ball by Kolega from half-way down the pitch.
Gzira tried their luck once more with a long cross by Cosic in the 75th minute being narrowly missed by Correa in Balzan’s penalty area. Following this, in one of their rare offenses, Balzan nearly doubled the score, with a low shot by Matheus on 75 minutes hitting the upright.
In the 82nd minute Gzira made a triple substitution, following another two made earlier, in a final effort to rescue the match. These substitutions marked the return of Thiago Espindola after a long absence due to injury.
Gzira stepped up the pressure on Balzan’s backline. In the 88th minute and beyond into the five minutes of additional time, Gzira had attempts by Muscat twice, De Assis and Tabone just missing the target.These desperate attempts proved futile and were the concluding acts of this scrappy match.
Gzira’s attempts and efforts at the end, were not enough to salvage a point, which overall would have been deserved. The Maroons now hope for a moral boosting performance in this week’s international friendly versus Serie A giants Inter, in order to hopefully return back to winning ways next weekend, against Zebbug Rangers, in their last match of the First Round.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Jeffersen De Assis
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