Malta loses 2-0 in Riga

Malta lost 2-0 to Latvia in penultimate match from Group F of the EURO 2012 Qualifiers at the Skonto Stadions in Riga on Friday.

With Jonathan Caruana ruled out injured, Malta coach John Buttigieg opted to hand Valletta defender Steve Borg his debut. On the other hand, Jamie Pace made it to the starting line-up in lieu of the injured Michael Mifsud.

After a quiet start, Latvia held the initiative, taking the lead on 32 minutes when M?ris Verpakovskis served Aleksejs Viš?akovs who beat Andrei Agius on the run before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.

Towards the end of the first half, Verpakovskis was unlucky not to double the score but his effort hit the crossbar.

Thirteen minutes in the second half, luck was definitely not on the Maltese side as a shot by Clayton Failla from outside the area hit the foot of the post, travelled along the goal line and hit the other post before the ball was cleared into safety by a Latvian defender.

Latvia sealed the issue seven minutes from time when following a good run on the right by Visnakovs, his cross was not cleared by the Maltese defence and Artjoms Rud?evs placed the ball at the back of the net from close range.

In added time, a freekick by Andrew Cohen was neutralised by the Latvian goalkeeper to deny Malta a consolation goal.

LATVIA: Andris Va?ins, Oskars K?ava, P?vels Mihadjuks, O?egs Laiz?ns (76′ Ritvars Rugins), Deniss Ivanovs, Aleksejs Viš?akovs, Aleksandrs Cau?a, M?ris Verpakovskis (91′ Andrejs Rubins), Ivans Lukjanovs, Kaspars Gorkšs, Artjoms Rud?evs (88′ Edgars Gaura?s).
MALTA: Andrew Hogg, Steve Borg, Gareth Sciberras (83′ Paul Fenech), Andrei Agius, Ryan Fenech (82′ Carlo Mamo), Clayton Failla, Roderick Briffa, Andrew Cohen, John Hutchinson, Andre Schembri, Jamie Pace (70′ Ivan Woods).
Referee: Richard Trutz (SVK)