Malta and Estonia shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw at the Pärnu Rannastaadion in Pärnu, Estonia in a friendly match, four days before the boys in red play their first game from the European Qualifiers leading to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
It was a fair result as the two teams shared the exchanges throughout the ninety minutes with Malta reacting immediately to the goal which put Estonia ahead, notching the equaliser just two minutes later.
Malta coach Pietro Ghedin handed Andrew Hogg, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg and Andre Schembri a place in the starting line-up after all had missed the last two games against the Czech Republic and Austria. Hogg started in goal with Borg, Caruana and Andrei Agius as central defenders, Joseph Zerafa and Clayton Failla on the flanks, Paul Fenech, Gareth Sciberras and Luke Gambin in midfield with Andre Schembri supporting Alfred Effiong in attack.
Following a goalless first half, the hosts managed to break the deadlock twelve minutes in the second half when Sergei Zenjov concluded a good move on the left flank by beating Andrei Agius’ marking and pulling to a more central position before hitting the ball in the bottom right corner behind Hogg.
Two minutes later, Malta equalised when Andrei Schembri sent Alfred Effiong through but Nikita Baranov, in attempt to anticipate him and clear the ball into safety, lobbed the ball over the goalkeeper with the Nigerian-born striker having the easiest of jobs in tapping the ball home from close range.
Malta could have forged ahead on the 76th minute but Andre Schembri, intelligently served by Luke Gambin, was unlucky to hit the upright with a fine shot from inside the area after controlling the ball well.[gallery_bank type=”images” format=”masonry” title=”true” desc=”false” responsive=”true” display=”all” sort_by=”pic_id” animation_effect=”bounce” album_title=”true” album_id=”7″]
ESTONIA Mihkel Aksalu, Taijo Teniste, Nikita Baranov, Ken Kallaste, Artur Pikk (78′ Dmitri Kruglov), Karol Mets, Aleksandr Dmitrijev (69′ Ilja Antonov), Gert Kams (62′ Maksim Gussev), Konstantin Vassiljev, Sergei Zenjov, Ats Purje (68′ Rauno Sappinen).
MALTA Andrew Hogg, Jonathan Caruana, Joseph Zerafa, Gareth Sciberras, Andrei Agius, Clayton Failla (46′ Ryan Camilleri), Paul Fenech (83′ Roderick Briffa), Luke Gambin, Andre Schembri (85′ Bjorn Kristensen), Steve Borg (61′ Zach Muscat), Alfred Effiong (73′ Michael Mifsud).
Referee: Michael Tykgaard (DEN)
Assistant Referees: Lars Rix, Niels Hög (DEN)
Fourth Official: Sten Klaasen (EST)