A penalty three minutes from time was a deep blow for the Malta Under-21 side as they suffered a 0-3 defeat to Ukraine in a game from Group 8 of the UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifying round.
Despite the superiority of the visiting side, the locals managed to keep their opponents at bay until the 86th minute when Joseph Zerafa brought an opponent down inside the area. From the penalty spot, Yaroslav Rakitskiy to put Ukraine 1-0 ahead. Two minutes later, an erratic pass by Steve Borg allowed Andriy Yarmolenko to deposit the ball into the empty net. Four minutes in added time, substitute Valerii Fedorchuk made it 3-0, anticipating goalkeeper Henry Bonello from close range.
Ukraine, who now lead the table with 14 points, three ahead of France and Belgium, were determined to take the three points home right from the start. They kept the Maltese under constant pressure. However with goalkeeper Henry Bonello in excellent form and with the rest of the rear-guard doing a fine job, the visitors were finding it difficult to forge ahead.
After the break, Ukraine increased the pressure but substitute Miguel Ciantar went close to putting Malta ahead with a powerful shot which was deflected into a corner by goalkeeper Anton Kanibolotskiy on 68 minutes in what was the only scoring opportunity for Malta throughout the ninety minutes.
Henry Bonello performed a great save on a Denys Garmash header on 76 minutes and then performed good saves on Volodymyr Lysenko and Garmash once again. On 83 minutes, Lysenko incredibly missed the chance to put Ukraine ahead, failing to connect off a pass by Garmash. Two minutes later, a header by Vitaliy Vitsenets scraped past the post.
MALTA Henry Bonello, Beppe Muscat, Steve Borg, Joseph Zerafa, Duncan Pisani, Mark Scerri (73′ Adrian Borg), Rowen Muscat, Richard Chetcuti (58′ Miguel Ciantar), Julian Galea, Karl Pulo, Terence Vella (66′ Quelin Refalo).
UKRAINE Anton Kanibolotskiy, Oleksandr Matveyeyev, Yevgen Selin, Yaroslav Rakitskiy, Taras Stepanenko, Mykola Morozyuk (71′ Vitaliy Vitsenets), Roman Zozulya (78′ Volodymyr Lysenko), Andriy Yarmolenko, Serhiy Kryvtsov, Maxym Bilyy (61′ Valerii Fedorchuk), Denys Garmash.
Referee: Lars Christoffersen (DEN)