Two goals in the final fifteen minutes gave Lithuania a 2-0 win over Malta in Group F of the European Qualifiers at the LFF Stadionas in Vilnius on Tuesday. The first win for Lithuania following draws with Slovenia and Scotland and the third defeat in as many matches for Malta.
Malta coach Pietro Ghedin made three changes to the team which lost to England on Saturday as Jonathan Caruana replaced Ryan Camilleri as one of the central defenders, Joseph Zerafa replaced Alex Muscat on the left flank while Michael Mifsud retook the captain’s armband as he replaced Alfred Effiong in attack. Andrew Hogg started in goal with Jonathan Caruana, Andrei Agius and Zach Muscat as the three central defenders, Steve Borg and Joseph Zerafa on the flanks, Paul Fenech, Gareth Sciberras and Bjorn Kristensen in midfield with Andre Schembri supporting Michael Mifsud in attack.
The team’s performance was better than that against England on Saturday but the team still failed to create goal-scoring opportunities.
The two teams shared the exchanges for most of the first half. However shots at goal were quite rare. The best attempts fell at the feet of Norovikas whose shot from outside the area was partially saved by Hogg and off the rebound, the conclusion by Černych was parried by the Malta custodian two minutes in added time.
After the break, the hosts held the initiative and went close to taking the lead on the 69th minute but Andrew Hogg performed a fine save into a corner on an overhead kick by Tomas Mikuckis following a freekick from the left.
Lithuania took the lead on the 75th minute when off a corner by Novikovas from the left, the ball bounced inside the area and Fiodor Černych rose high to head home despite Zach Muscat’s attempt to block his attempt.
Six minutes from time, Lithuania doubled the score through an Arvydas Novikovas penalty after Jonathan Caruana hit Deivydas Matulevičius inside the area. The Valletta defender was also sent off.[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=”24″]
LITHUANIA Ernestas Šetkus, Georgas Freidgeimas, Tomas Mikuckis, Egidijus Vaitkūnas, Arvydas Novikovas (87′ Mindaugas Grigaravičius), Vykintas Slivka, Mantas Kuklys (79′ Karolis Chvedukas), Artūras Žulpa, Nerijus Valskis (61′ Deivydas Matulevičius), Fiodor Černych, Vytautas Andriuškevičius.
MALTA Andrew Hogg, Jonathan Caruana, Joseph Zerafa, Gareth Sciberras, Andrei Agius, Steve Borg, Paul Fenech (85′ Steve Pisani), Michael Mifsud, André Schembri (83′ Rowen Muscat), Bjorn Kristensen (80′ Alfred Effiong), Zach Muscat.
Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano (ESP)
Assistant referees: Roberto Alonso, Angel Nevado Rodriguez (ESP)
Fourth Official: Carlos Del Cerro (ESP)