Malta suffered a heavy 6-0 defeat to Denmark at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen with Morten Olsen’s side clinching the second place in Group B of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday. A second place which could however not be enough to secure a place in the play-offs due to their poor record against the teams placing first, third, fourth and fifth in the group.
Pietro Ghedin was hoping his players would bounce back with a good performance after disappointing in the clash with the Czech Republic last Friday but this failed to take place as the Danish scored twice in the first eleven minutes to pave the way for a most comfortable win.
Although this campaign will be remembered for the historic win in Armenia, this was the second 6-0 defeat for Malta in the group after the defeat to Bulgaria last March.
Apart from the injured Jonathan Caruana and Gareth Sciberras, Ghedin was forced to leave Luke Dimech out of the starting line-up after the Valletta defender sustained an injury in training. Andrei Agius and Ryan Camilleri were employed as central defenders with Alex Muscat and Clayton Failla playing on the flanks, Rowen Muscat and Roderick Briffa took the usual role of holding midfielders with John Mintoff, Andre Schembri and Edward Herrera playing in midfield behind captain Michael Mifsud.
Denmark managed to take the lead on the 8th minute when off a cross by Emil Larsen, Morten Rasmussen’s first attempt was blocked by Haber on the goal line but off the rebound, the same player placed the ball at the back of the net.
Three minutes later, the hosts doubled the score John Mintoff floored Michael Krohn-Dehli on the edge of the area as the latter tried to enter from the left. The referee ordered a penalty and Daniel Agger converted.
Denmark scored the third goal on 28 minutes when off a cross from the right, the unmarked Andreas Bjelland headed home into the empty net.
Malta replied with a Clayton Failla powerful drive on 35 minutes which was turned into a corner by Kasper Schmeichel. The hosts, however, threatened once again with a diagonal shot by Rasmussen which scraped past the post.
Denmark was awarded another penalty on the 38th minute when referee Aleksandar Stavrev judged a challenge by Andrei Agius on Emil Larsen inside the area as a foul, ordering a penalty. Daniel Agger, once again, made no mistake to make it 4-0.
Rasmussen almost added another three minutes from the end of the first half but his close-range effort was turned into a corner by Haber.
The Malta custodian once again came to the rescue five minutes in the second half with a beautiful save into a corner on a Thomas Delaney effort.
Denmark scored the fifth goal on 74 minutes. Kasper Kusk had a shot from the left blocked by the Malta goalkeeper, Michael Krohn Dehli took the rebound and hit low with Morten Rasmussen deflecting the ball past Haber from close-range.
After going close with a diagonal shot from the right, Michael Mifsud had a good opportunity to reduce the gape when Andre Schembri sent him through on the 82nd minute but he was anticipated by Delaney before he could conclude.
Substitute Nicki Bille scored the sixth goal seven minutes from time when he received an intelligent pass by Krohn-Dehli, anticipating Haber with a perfect flick from the left.
Photos: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
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DENMARK Kasper Schmeichel, Peter Ankersen, Andreas Bjelland, Daniel Agger, Thomas Delaney, Casper Sloth (65′ Leon Andreasen), William Kvist Jorgensen, Christian Eriksen (53′ Kasper Kusk), Michael Krohn-Dehli, Emil Larsen, Morten Rasmussen (75′ Nicki Bille Nielsen).
MALTA Justin Haber, Alex Muscat, Andrei Agius, Clayton Failla, Roderick Briffa, Michael Mifsud, Edward Herrera (82′ Ryan Fenech), Andre Schembri, John Mintoff, Rowen Muscat, Ryan Camilleri.
Referee: Aleksandar Stavrev (FYROM)
Assistant Referees: Marjan Kirovski and Dejan Kostadinov (FYROM)
Fourth Official: Dejan Jakimovski (FYROM)