Malta scored twice in the final half-hour to beat Lithuania 2-0 in a friendly match at the National Stadium as part of the preparation ahead of Friday’s EURO qualifier against Bulgaria. For Malta, this was a first win since the 3-2 win in another friendly match against the Faroe Islands in November 2013.
The Maltese were on the receiving end for most of the first half and were lucky not to go one goal down soon after the restart but the boys in red and white made the most of the chances they created, taking the lead just past the hour and doubling the score late in the game.
With Andrew Hogg, Steve Borg, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Bezzina and Ryan Fenech all unavailable, Ghedin had to make a number of changes from the team which lost 2-0 to Azerbaijan in Baku last March. Ghedin opted for a 3-5-2 formation with Zach Muscat, Andrei Agius and Ryan Camilleri in front of goalkeeper Justin Haber; Alex Muscat and Clayton Failla on the flanks; Roderick Briffa, Rowen Muscat anbd Paul Fenech in midfield with Andrew Cohen supporting Michael Mifsud in attack.
The visitors held the initiative during the first half hour but in a counter-attack, the returning Michael Mifsud almost put Malta ahead with a diagonal shot from the right which scraped past the upright on 33 minutes.
Eight minutes in the second half, Lithuania almost took the lead when off a cross by Vytautas Lukša from the right, Saulius Mikoliūnas’s conclusion was however blocked on the goal line by Deivydas Matulevičius.
Against the run of play, Malta managed to the lead on 62 minutes thanks to a rising shot by Paul Fenech from the right,just inside the area, which gave goalkeeper Edvinas Gertmonas no chance.
Malta doubled the score ten minutes from time. It was a great goal by substitute Alfred Effiong who concluded a great run on the left flank by rounding three defenders and beating the Lithuanian with a fine curved shot from outside the area which ended in the top right corner.
MALTA Justin Haber, Alex Muscat (56′ Edward Herrera), Andrei Agius, Paul Fenech (80′ Ryan Scicluna), Clayton Failla (82′ Joseph Zerafa), Roderick Briffa (63′ Bjorn Kristensen), Michael Mifsud, Andrew Cohen (60′ Alfred Effiong), Rowen Muscat (89′ Andre Schembri), Ryan Camilleri, Zach Muscat.
LITHUANIA Edvinas Gertmonas, Linas Klimavičius (46′ Tadas Kijanskas), Georgas Freidgeimas, Deividas Česnauskis (88′ Vytautas Andriuškevičius), Egidijus Vaitkūnas, Deivydas Matulevičius (55′ Lukas Spalvis), Saulius Mikoliūnas, Vytautas Lukša (83′ Simonas Stankevičius), Vykintas Slivka (73′ Rolandas Baravykas), Mantas Kuklys (46′ Gratas Sirgėdas), Mindaugas Panka.
Referee: Sven Bindels (LUX)
Assistant Referees: David Mateus Santos, Michael De Sousa (LUX)
Fourth Official: Marco Borg