Malta loses 0-2 to Israel

Malta ended its commitments in Group F of the EURO 2012 Qualifiers at the bottom with just one point after suffering the ninth defeat in ten matches, losing 0-2 to Israel.

The team led by Luis Fernandez held the initiative, creating several chances, especially during the first half. The Maltese had their fair share of scoring opportunities but failed to score the goal which could have given them another positive result.

Malta had five changes from the team which lost to Latvia in Riga last week as Jonathan Caruana, Carlo Mamo, Paul Fenech, Ivan Woods and Michael Mifsud replaced Steve Borg, Jamie Pace, Andre Schembri and the suspended Clayton Failla and Andrew Cohen.

The locals had the first attempt at goal on the 4th minute when Ivan Woods managed to serve Michael Mifsud on the left and the latter rounded a defender before hitting just wide from inside the area.

However Israel managed to take the lead on 11 minutes when off a pass by Taleb Tawatha, Lior Rafaleov hit home past goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.

The visitors went close once again two minutes later with a cross by Tomer Hemed from the left which was deflected by Hogg and off the rebound, Maor Buzaglo’s goal-bound shot was turned into a corner by Jonathan Caruana.

On 23 minutes, in a counter-attack for Malta, Michael Mifsud entered the penalty area and tried his luck with a low shot which was blocked by Aouate.

Israel missed a good opportunity on 36 minutes when Hogg rushed out of the area but Rafaleov crossed from the left, only for Ben Sahar to head high.

Six minutes in the second half, Ben Sahar was unlucky not to double the score for Israel when his first attempt was blocked by Hogg and off the rebound, he headed the ball over the Maltese goalkeeper but the ball hit the crossbar before being cleared into a corner.

Jonathan Caruana then came to the rescue blocking a Ben Sahar effort from inside the area on 65 minutes. Seven minutes later, Malta had its best scoring opportunity when off a cross by Carlo Mamo from the left, Gareth Sciberras’ header hit the crossbar and bounced on the goal line before being cleared into safety. On the 74th, a low shot by Ivan Woods from the right was neutralized by the Israeli goalkeeper.

Seven minutes from time, Mifsud tried his luck with a shot from outside the area which was parried by Dudu Aouate. On the other side of the pitch, a freekick by Bebras Natcho was tipped into a corner by Hogg.

Deep into stoppage time, Malta suffered the second goal when off a freekick by Natcho, Raim Gershon headed home past goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.

Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com

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MALTA Andrew Hogg, Jonathan Caruana (82’ Steve Borg), Carlo Mamo, Gareth Sciberras, Andrei Agius, Ryan Fenech, Roderick Briffa, Michael Mifsud, Paul Fenech (64’ Edward Herrera), John Hutchinson, Ivan Woods (81’ Christian Caruana).
Subs not used: Justin Haber, Andre Schembri, Joseph Zerafa, Jamie Pace.
Coach: John Buttigieg

ISRAEL Dudu Aouate, Dani Bondarv (57’ Gil Vermouth), Taleb Tawatha, Rami Gershon, Nir Biton, Maor Buzaglo, Bebras Natcho, Eyal Golasa, Lior Rafaleov (49’ Almog Cohen), Ben Sahar (78’ Tal Ben Haim), Tomer Hemed.
Subs not used: Guy Haimov, Itzhak Cohen, Dudu Biton, Elyaniv Barda.
Coach: Luis Fernandez

Referee: Bruno Miguel Duarte Paixao
Assistant referees: Jose Manuel Silva Cardinal, Venancio Manuel Raposo Batista Tome
Fourth official: Joao Francisco Lopes Ferreira
Yellow Cards: Woods, Agius
Scorers: 11’ Lior Rafaelov, 93′ Rami Gershon
Attendance: 2,164