A goal after less than two minutes and an own goal gave Denmark a 2-1 win over Malta at Ta’ Qali in another match from Group B of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Three points which put Denmark on level points with Armenia and the Czech Republic in joint-third place behind group leaders Italy and second-placed Bulgaria.
For Malta, the result is rather disappointing considering that the team created the chances thanks to which Malta could have obtained a positive result.
Malta coach Pietro Ghedin handed a place in the starting line-up to Rowen Muscat and John Mintoff. With Luke Dimech and Alex Muscat ruled out through suspension, Ryan Camilleri and Andrei Agius were employed as central defenders with Roderick Briffa and Clayton Failla on the flanks. Rowen Muscat joined Gareth Sciberras as holding midfielders with John Mintoff, Andre Schembri and Edward Herrera in midfield behind sole striker Michael Mifsud.
The Danish had a perfect start, taking the lead after just ninety seconds when off an assist by Martin Braithwaite from the left, Leon Andreasen beat Haber with a low shot from the edge of the area.
On the 10th, off another cross by Braithwaite, Rasmus Falk just failed to head home from close range. Seven minutes later, Malta had the first goal scoring opportunity as Andre Schembri took advantage of an erratic clearance by Lars Jacobsen but the Omonia Nicosia striker’s angled shot was blocked by the Danish goalkeeper.
In a swift counter-attack for Malta on the 37th, Andre Schembri’s good run was halted by Danish captain Daniel Agger, the ball reached Michael Mifsud whose shot was turned into a corner by Andersen.
Malta levelled matters a minute later thanks to a great freekick by Clayton Failla from the right which gave Stephan Andersen no chance.
Michael Mifsud then missed a good opportunity one minute from half-time when served by Andre Schembri on the left as he hit high from an inviting position inside the area rather than serving the unmarked Edward Herrera.
Six minutes in the second half, luck was definitely not on Michael Mifsud’s side as his header from the edge of the area hit the crossbar off a cross by Roderick Briffa.
A minute later, Denmark regained the lead when Christian Eriksen concluded a good move inside the area on the left, pulling to the centre and his conclusion hit the crossbar, the ball bounced onto the back of Ryan Camilleri to end at the back of the net for an own goal.
On the 57th minute, substitute Michael Krohn-Dehli, served by Eriksen on the left, tested Justin Haber with a powerful shot from the left but his attempt was blocked by the Birkirkara goalkeeper. Nine minutes later, Michael Mifsud concluded a good move with a shot from the edge of the area, ending just wide.
Malta will be in action once again on Tuesday, hosting Bulgaria at the National Stadium.
Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
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MALTA Justin Haber, Gareth Sciberras, Andrei Agius, Clayton Failla, Roderick Briffa, Michael Mifsud (80’ Terence Vella), Edward Herrera (89′ Andrew Cohen), Andre Schembri, John Mintoff (75’ Ryan Fenech), Rowen Muscat, Ryan Camilleri.
Subs not used: Andrew Hogg, Jonathan Caruana, Jacob Borg, Paul Fenech, Justin Grioli, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino
Coach: Pietro Ghedin
DENMARK Stephan Andersen, Leon Andreasen (72’ Casper Sloth), Simon Kjaer, Daniel Agger, Nicolai Boilesen, Lars Jacobsen, William Kvist Jorgensen, Christian Eriksen, Martin Braithwaite (83’ Viktor Fischer), Nicklas Pedersen, Rasmus Falk (46’ Michael Krohn-Dehli).
Subs not used: Kasper Schmeichel, Jesper Hansen, Andreas Bjelland, Peter Ankersen, Jores Okore, Thomas Delaney, Simon Makienok, Nicki Bille Nielsen, Emil Larsen.
Coach: Morten Olsen
Referee: Anastasios Sidiropoulos (GRE)
Asst. Referees: Christos Baltas, Michail Karsiotis (GRE)
Fourth Official: Ilias Spathas (GRE)
Yellow Cards: Agius, Briffa, Mintoff, Vella
Scorers: 2’ Leon Andreasen (D), 38’ Clayton Failla (M), 52’ own goal Ryan Camilleri (D)