The Malta national team registered the third successive win in a friendly match as they came back from one goal down to beat San Marino 3-2 at the Stadio Olimpico in Serravalle on Tuesday.
The hosts took an early lead but the boys in red managed to turn the score in their favour with quick goals by Michael Mifsud and Andrei Agius. Mifsud added another goal late in the game – his thirty-sixth goal for Malta – before San Marino reduced the gap with a late penalty.
Coach Pietro Ghedin handed Ryan Camilleri his debut, naming him as one of the central defenders together with Andrei Agius and Steve Borg and Alex Muscat on the flanks. Roderick Briffa and Gareth Sciberras were employed in midfield with Daniel Bogdanovic and Andrew Cohen on the wings and with Michael Mifsud and Andre Schembri as strikers.
Malta went close to taking the lead on the 3rd minute when Daniel Bogdanovic took advantage of an erratic clearance by a defender and hit just wide from the edge of the area.
However the hosts managed to take the lead on the 8th minute when off a corner from the right, Mirko Palazzi deflected the ball into the direction of Manuel Mariani who placed the ball at the back from close range.
Malta levelled matters on the 13th when Michael Mifsud received a through pass on the right and with a powerful shot, he managed to beat goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini who failed to hold the striker’s angled shot.
Matteo Vitaioli almost put San Marino ahead once again on 15 minutes after the Malta rear-guard failed to clear the ball into safety but his attempt was cleared into a corner. On the other side of the pitch, an Andrew Cohen effort was deflected into a corner three minutes later.
Malta forged ahead on 21 minutes when off a corner from the right, Andrew Cohen served Andrei Agius from the right and the latter slammed the ball home past the helpless Simoncini.
A fine Roderick Briffa effort from outside the area was deflected into a corner on the half-hour. Then in a good move for the locals, Cervellini released Marani on the right, the latter passed the ball back to Danilo Rinaldi who concluded high.
Malta however went close once again two minutes from the end of the first half with a powerful shot by Mifsud which was not held by the Sammarinese custodian. Just before half-time, Steve Borg advanced on the right and into the area, serving the unmarked Andrew Cohen whose goal-bound shot was cleared off the goal-line by a defender.
In the second half, goal-mouth action was rare and it was only on the 70th that the hosts went close with a shot by from the right by Alessandro Bianchi ending just wide. Two minutes later, substitute goalkeeper Federico Valentini performed a fine save on a powerful drive by Etienne Barbara.
Malta sealed the issue six minutes from time thanks to another goal by Michael Mifsud whose rising shot from the left gave goalkeeper Federico Valentini no chance.
Two minutes in added time, San Marino were awarded a penalty by Italian referee Paolo Tagliavento following a foul inside the area. From the penalty spot, Danilo Rinaldi blasted the ball past goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.
SAN MARINO Aldo Junior Simoncini (46′ Federico Valentini), Fabio Vitaioli (63′ Damiano Vannucci), Mirko Palazzi, Michele Cervellini, Davide Simoncini, Alessandro Della Valle (46′ Cristian Brolli), Enrico Cibelli (46′ Alessandro Bianchi), Alex Gasperoni, Danilo Rinaldi, Manuel Marani (79′ Simone Bacciocchi), Matteo Vitaioli (71′ Marco Muraccini).
Subs not used: Pier Filippo Mazza.
MALTA Andrew Hogg, Alex Muscat (86′ John Mintoff), Gareth Sciberras, Andrei Agius, Daniel Bogdanovic, Roderick Briffa (46′ Shaun Bajada), Michael Mifsud (86′ Paul Fenech), Andrew Cohen, Andre Schembri (46′ Etienne Barbara), Ryan Camilleri (54′ Luke Dimech), Steve Borg (62′ Ryan Fenech).
Subs not used: Justin Haber.
Referee: Paolo Tagliavento (ITA)
Assistant Referees: Massimo Zanotti, Andrea Guidi (SMR)
Fourth official: Johnny Casanova (SMR)