Tom Saintfiet started his tenure as Malta coach in a disappointing manner as Malta lost 0-3 to Estonia in a friendly match at the National Stadium on Sunday.
Estonia took less than a minute to open the scoring and double the score within the first fifteen minutes to take a comfortable lead. These two goals conditioned the game and the Maltese reaction, especially during the first half, left much to be desired. In the second half, the Maltese showed better ideas but this was still not enough to score, at least, a consolation goal and on the 90th, Estonia added a third goal to seal the issue.
Saintfiet handed Henry Bonello, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino and Rowen Muscat a place in the starting line-up. For Muscat, this was his first start as recovering from a long-term injury, starring for Valletta in the last three matches as substitute.
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Bonello started in goal with Agius and Gatt Baldacchino as central defenders, Borg and Zach Muscat on the flanks, Rowen Muscat and Ryan Fenech as central midfielders, Schembri, Mifsud and Gambin in midfield with Jean Paul Farrugia as the only striker.
The visitors had a perfect start, taking the lead after just fifty four seconds when Sergei Mošnikov sent Rauno Sappinen through and the latter went Agius before hitting home past Bonello.
Malta replied with a cross from the left by Luke Gambin which was cleared into safety by a defender on the 8th minute and three minutes later, Ryan Fenech’s rising shot ended high.
Estonia were awarded a penalty on the 13th minute after Artur Pikk was brought down inside the area by Steve Borg and from the penalty spot, Sergei Mošnikov made no mistake.
Sergei Mošnikov almost made it 3-0 on the 23rd minute with a direct freekick but Bonello managed to turn the ball into a corner.
Ten minutes later, Jean Paul Farrugia went close to reducing the gap for Malta when off a Michael Mifsud cross from the left, he controlled before testing Estonian goalkeeper Marko Meerits with a fine shot from the right which was however turned into a corner.
Estonia had a good header by Madis Vihmann saved by Bonello and Sergei Zejnov just failed to connect off an inviting pass from the left. Then two minutes from the end of the first half, Luke Gambin concluded a solo effort on the right flank with a diagonal shot which was turned into a corner by the Estonian goalkeeper.
Malta had an excellent chance to reduce the gap on the 70th minute when off an inviting pass by Michael Mifsud from the right, substitute Kyrian Nwoko hit high from close range. Six minutes later, Mifsud sent Alfred Effiong through and the latter’s conclusion was parried by Meerits. On the other side of the pitch, Taijo Teniste tested Bonello with an angled shot from the right on the 77th.
However on the 90th minute, Estonia scored the third goal when off a cross by Mattias Käit from the right, Henri Anier slotted the ball home from close range.[gallery_bank type=”images” format=”masonry” title=”true” desc=”false” responsive=”true” display=”all” sort_by=”random” animation_effect=”bounce” album_title=”true” album_id=”88″]
MALTA Henry Bonello, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius, Ryan Fenech (70′ Alfred Effiong), Michael Mifsud, Andre Schembri (59′ Steve Pisani), Rowen Muscat (65′ Paul Fenech), Zach Muscat (46′ Joseph Zerafa), Jean Paul Farrugia (59′ Kyrian Nwoko), Luke Gambin (78′ Clayton Failla).
ESTONIA Marko Meerits, Madis Vihmann, Artur Pikk, Ilja Antonov (55′ Mattias Käit), Sergei Zenjov (78′ Henri Anier), Rauno Sappinen (82′ Brent Lepistu), Sergei Mošnikov (66′ Ats Purje), Karol Mets, Artjom Dmitrijev, Nikita Baranov (58′ Joonas Tamm), Karl Mööl (66′ Taijo Teniste).
Referee: Genc Nuza (KOS)
Assistant Referees: Fatlum Berisha, Bujar Selimaj (KOS)
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: Gatt Baldacchino, Borg, Failla