Malta earned its first point in Group F of the EURO 2012 qualifiers after holding Georgia in a 1-1 draw at the National Stadium on Tuesday.
This was also the first positive result in a competitive game since coach John Buttigieg took over as national coach just over two years ago.
Buttigieg made only one change from the team which lost to Croatia on Friday as Jonathan Caruana replaced Manny Muscat.
Caruana was employed as central defender together with Andrei Agius with Roderick Briffa and Clayton Failla on the two flanks. Gareth Sciberras joined John Hutchinson in midfield with Andrew Cohen on the right flank and Ryan Fenech on the left with Andre Schembri behind Michael Mifsud.
The Maltese had the first attempt at goal on 12 minutes when Schembri served Mifsud whose powerful drive from outside the area was turned into a corner with particular difficulty by Nukri Revishvili.
Three minutes later, Georgia forged ahead when off a corner by Martsvaladze, Jaba Kankava’s header hit the crossbar and crossed the goal line, catching Hogg slightly out of place.
Malta levelled matters on 25 minutes. It was a great goal by Michael Mifsud who concluded a good move by rounding a player and beating the Georgian goalkeeper with a powerful drive from outside the area.
Andrew Hogg was prominent with a fine save on a cross shot by Martsvaladze from the right on 34 minutes. A minute later, Andrei Agius tested Revishvili with a header from the edge of the area following a cross by Roderick Briffa from the right.
Six minutes in the second half, Hogg performed another good save on an Alexander Iashvili effort from outside the area.
Substitute Daniel Bogdanovic tried his luck with a long-distance shot which was turned into a corner by the Georgian goalkeeper on 67 minutes. From the resulting corner, a cross shot by Mifsud ended just wide. Ten minutes later, Mifsud served Hutchinson on the left but the latter’s conclusion missed the target. On the other side of the pitch, substitute Dvalishvili tested Hogg with a low shot from the edge of the area.
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MALTA Andrew Hogg, Jonathan Caruana, Gareth Sciberras, Andrei Agius, Ryan Fenech (59′ Daniel Bogdanovic), Roderick Briffa, Michael Mifsud, Andrew Cohen (90+2′ Ivan Woods), John Hutchinson, Andre Schembri (76′ Jamie Pace), Clayton Failla.
Subs not used: Reuben Gauci, Carlo Mamo, Manny Muscat, Paul Fenech.
Coach: John Buttigieg
GEORGIA Nukri Revishvili, Jaba Kankava, Guram Kashia, Gia Grigalava, Kakha Kaladze, Zvrab Khizanishvili, Levan Kobiashvili, Otar Martsvaladze (65′ Shota Grigalashvili), Jano Ananidze (77′ Alexander Kobakhidze), Alexander Iashvili (61′ Vladimir Dvalishvili), David Targamadze.
Subs not used: Giorgi Loria, David Siradze, Dato Kvirkvelia, Aleksander Gourouli.
Coach: Temur Ketsbaia
Referee: Paulus Van Boekel (NED)
Assistant referees: Rob Van De Van, Angelo Boonman (NED)
Fourth official: Richard Liesveld (NED)
Yellow Cards: Khizanishvili, Kashia, Hogg
Scorers: 15’ Jaba Kankava; 25’ Michael Mifsud