Malta lost 3-1 to the Czech Republic in another match from Group 3 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup at the Stadion města Plzně – Doosan Arena in Plzen.
The Maltese played an excellent first half, going 1-1 into half-time. However the Czech Republic showed greater determination after the break, scoring twice to secure the three points.
Photo: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
Pietro Ghedin had faith in the same players which played against Italy, replacing the injured Daniel Bogdanovic with Shaun Bajada. Hogg started in goal with Andrei Agius and Luke Dimech as central defenders, Alex Muscat and Steve Borg on the flanks, Shaun Bajada, Roderick Briffa, Gareth Sciberras, Andre Schembri and Edward Herrera in midfield with Michael Mifsud in attack.
Young Hibernians midfielder Ayrton Azzopardi was awarded his debut as he was included as a substitute two minutes from time.
The hosts held the initiative right from the start but the Maltese controlled their opponents well, hardly allowing them to shoot at goal during the first half.
Thomas Pekhart almost put the Czech Republic ahead as he blocked a clearance by Andrew Hogg following a back pass by Luke Dimech. Malta replied with a good move by Edward Herrera on the left as he rounded Gebre Selassie and tried his luck with a diagonal shot ending wide.
Andrew Hogg was prominent on 33 minutes as he blocked two close-range efforts by Jaroslav Plašil and Petr Jiráček.
However a minute later, the Czech Republic managed to to break the deadlock when off a David Limberský cross from the left, Theodor Gebre Selassie headed the ball home.
However four minutes later, Malta restored equilibrium thanks to a great goal by Roderick Briffa who gained possession just outside the penalty area, rounded two defenders and beat Petr Čech with a brilliant rising shot.
The Czech Republic regained the lead seven minutes in the second half when following a good move on the left flank between Hübschman and Rajtoral who served Jiráček and off the latter’s cross, Tomáš Pekhart headed home from close range.
Michael Mifsud tried to surprise Cech with a lob from midfield on 55 minutes.
The hosts scored the third goal on 67 minutes when Jiráček released Plašil on the left and the latter’s cross was well-connected by the unmarked Jan Rezek who hit low past Hogg.
A header by Pekhart was saved partially by Hogg following a corner from the right on 73 minutes with the ball cleared into safety by a defender.
Three minutes in added time, Malta could have reduced he gap after being awarded a penalty as Milan Petržela brought Steve Borg down inside the area. However Michael Mifsud’s effort was neutralised by Cech.
Photos: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
CZECH REPUBLIC Petr Čech, Theodore Gebre Selassie, Michal Kadlec, Tomáš Sivok, David Limberský, Jan Rezek, František Rajtoral (61′ Milan Petržela), Jaroslav Plašil, Tomáš Hübschman, Petr Jiráček (72′ Vladimír Darida), Tomáš Pekhart (82′ David Lafata).
Coach: Michal Bílek (CZK)
MALTA Andrew Hogg, Alex Muscat, Gareth Sciberras, Andrei Agius, Luke Dimech, Edward Herrera, Roderick Briffa, Michael Mifsud, Andre’ Schembri (87′ Paul Fenech), Steve Borg, Shawn Bajada (89′ Ayrton Azzopardi).
Coach: Pietro Ghedin
Referee: Salmanov Anar (AZE)
Assistant Referee: Hashimov Mubariz, Abbasov Yashar (AZE)
Fourth Official: Aliyev Vusal (AZE)