A goal by Zach Muscat on the 14th minute gave Malta a surprise 1-0 win over Ukraine at the Merkur Arena in Graz, Austria on Tuesday. A friendly match which was part of the national team’s preparation ahead of the European Qualifier against Slovenia in Ljubljana on Saturday.
Steve Borg, Alex Muscat, Clayton Failla, Ryan Fenech and Alfred Effiong were back in the starting line-up for Malta. Malta coach Pietro Ghedin opted to start with Andrew Hogg in goal, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius and Zach Muscat in defence with Alex Muscat and Clayton Failla on the flanks, Steve Pisani, Ryan Fenech and Bjorn Kristensen in midfield with Andre Schembri supporting Alfred Effiong in attack. The three uncapped players – Dale Camilleri, Johann Bezzina and Myles Beerman were included as substitutes as Ghedin included all the other nine players at his disposal during the second half.
Ukraine coach Andriy Shevchenko, on the other hand, replaced ten of the eleven players for the beginning of the second half.
Malta managed to take the lead on the 14th minute thanks to a Zach Muscat header which beat goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov when served by Alex Muscat from the right.
Alfred Effiong went close twice to increasing the lead – first with a header on the 33rd minute and then with a conclusion from the right towards the end of the first half, just before Andre Schembri had an appeal for a penalty turned down by the referee although he seemed to be tripped inside the area by the Ukrainian goalkeeper.
After the break, Ukraine were constantly in the driving seat but the boys in red controlled their opponents well with goalkeeper Henry Bonello performing a brilliant save on Viktor Tsyganov on the 69th minute.[gallery_bank type=”images” format=”masonry” title=”true” desc=”false” responsive=”true” display=”all” sort_by=”pic_id” animation_effect=”bounce” album_title=”true” album_id=”57″]
UKRAINE (1st half) Andriy Pyatov, Oleksandr Kucher, Taras Stephanenko, Andriy Yarmolenko, Ruslan Malinovski, Mykola Morozyuk, Yevhen Seleznev, Serhiy Sydorchuk, Yaroslav Rakytskyi, Viktor Kovalenko, Mykola Matvienko.
(2nd half) Andriy Pyatov, Bohdan Butko, Ivan Ordets, Eduard Sobol, Yevhen Konoplyanka, Yehen Shakov, Viktor Tsyganov, Maksym Malyshev, Artem Besedin, Serhiy Kryvtsov, Volodymyr Shepeliev.
MALTA Andrew Hogg (46′ Henry Bonello), Steve Borg (92′ Sam Magri), Andrei Agius, Ryan Fenech (82′ Johann Bezzina), Clayton Failla (57′ Joseph Zerafa), Andre Schembri (60′ Luke Gambin), Bjorn Kristensen (67′ Dale Camilleri), Alfred Effiong (70′ Michael Mifsud), Zach Muscat (46′ Ryan Camilleri), Steve Pisani, Alex Muscat (92′ Myles Beerman).
Referee: Alexander Harkam (AUT)