Malta came back from one goal down to defeat Liechtenstein 2-1 in a friendly match at the National Stadium on Wednesday. This game marked the first outing for national team under the guidance of Robert Gatt who took charge of the team after the termination of the contract of former national coach John Buttigieg and his assistant Carmel Busuttil.
Michael Mifsud, scorer of five goals in the 7-1 victory over Liechtenstein four years ago, was the hero once again for Malta with the two goals to increase his tally to 32 goals for the national team.
Robert Gatt handed the debut to Sliema Wanderers goalkeeper Henry Bonello, Hibernians midfielder Bjorn Kristensen and Valletta’s Edmond Agius. Bonello and Kristensen were included in the starting line-up with Agius being included as a substitute. Luke Dimech, who was back in the national squad after a long absence was also included as a substitute.
Gatt adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation with Briffa, Borg, Caruana and Failla in defence, Andrei Agius and Kristensen as holding midfielders, with Daniel Bogdanovic, Andre Schembri and Andrew Cohen behind sole striker Michael Mifsud.
The locals had the first attempt at goal on the 12th minute when Michael Mifsud rounded two defenders before unleashing a powerful shot which was neutralised by the Liechtenstein custodian.
The two teams shared the exchanges for long stretches with however few shots at goal.
Three minutes in the second half, the visitors managed to take the lead when Martin Buchel managed to beat goalkeeper Justin Haber.
Malta levelled matters on the 54th minute. It was a great goal by Michael Mifsud who received the ball in midfield, advanced and with a great rising shot from outside the area, he beat goalkeeper Peter Jehle.
Clayton Failla was unlucky not to put Malta ahead on 61 minutes but his direct freekick hit the foot of the upright.
But three minutes later, Malta was not to be denied as an erratic clearance by a defender, following a cross from the right by Schembri, allowed Michael Mifsud to slot the ball past Jehle to make it 2-1.
Michael Mifsud went close once again with a low shot from the edge of the area ending just wide on the 71st minute.
Three minutes in added time, Malta could have added another goal. With goalkeeper Peter Jehle joining his team-mates in attack, Michael Mifsud led a swift counter-attack but his effort from a distance of around forty metres ended just wide.
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MALTA Henry Bonello (46′ Justin Haber), Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg (46′ Luke Dimech), Andrei Agius (84′ Gareth Sciberras), Daniel Bogdanovic, Roderick Briffa (72′ Alex Muscat), Michael Mifsud, Andrew Cohen, Clayton Failla, Andre Schembri (75′ Shaun Bajada), Bjorn Kristensen (46′ Edmond Agius).
LIECHTENSTEIN Peter Jehle, Yves Dehri (86′ Fabian Eberle), Michael Stocklasa (22′ Daniel Kartmann), Martin Stocklasa, Martin Rechsteiner (85′ Ivan Quintans), Martin Buchel (74′ Matthias Christen), Mario Frick, Franz Burchemeier, Nicolas Hasler, Sandro Wieser, Michele Polverino.
Referee: Mark Whitby
Assistant Referee: Mark Dyson, Kim Fisher
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: A. Agius, Jehle, D. Bogdanovic, S. Wieser
Scorers: 48′ Martin Buchel (L); 54′ Michael Mifsud (M); 64′ Michael Mifsud (M)