The Malta Under-21 side survived a good comeback by Moldova and went on to win 3-2 at the Hibernians Stadium on Tuesday in a clash from Group 1 of the UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifiers.
A win which sealed the fourth place in the group and an impressive record for a Maltese team of eleven points in ten matches.
Silvio Vella was forced to make one change from the team which defeated Latvia on Friday as Johann Bezzina replaced the suspended Llywelyn Cremona.
Malta held the initiative in the early stages, going close on the 9th minute when off a Johann Bezzina corner, there was a cross by Ryan Camenzuli and Sam Magri headed just over the bar.
A Jake Grech free kick from the left was parried by Radu on the 25th minute. A diagonal shot from the right by Joseph Mbong scraped past the post and on the half-hour, Jurgen Degabriele missed an excellent opportunity, hitting high from close range. On the other side of the pitch, an Ilie Damascan low shot was deflected into a corner on the 34th minute.
Malta managed to break the deadlock on the 40th minute thanks to a long-distance effort by Jean Borg which gave the Moldovan goalkeeper no chance.
Ryan Camenzuli doubled the score with a direct free kick from the right just before half-time.
Moldova pulled one back on the 52nd minute when they were awarded a penalty after goalkeeper Jurgen Borg brought Dinu Graur down inside the area; Ilie Damascan’s effort from the penalty spot was partially saved by the Malta custodian but off the rebound, Dan Taras tapped the ball home.
The visitors levelled matters on the 65th when referee Stavros Manolas ordered another penalty and from the penalty spot, Serghei Svinarenco made no mistake.
However Malta regained the lead on the 67th thanks a fine curved shot by Joseph Mbong from the right which hit the upright before ending at the back of the net.
Moldova almost equalised four minutes from time when off a corner by Svinarenco from the right, a header by Rebenja was cleared off the goal line by a defender after the ball hit the far post.[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=”25″]
MALTA Jurgen Borg, Sam Magri, Jean Borg, Daniel Zerafa, Ryan Camenzuli, Jake Grech, Johann Bezzina, Matthew Guillaumier, Joseph Mbong (87′ Brandon Muscat), Jurgen Degabriele (90′ Myles Beerman), Cain Attard (66′ Samir Arab).
MOLDOVA Radu Mitu, Ion Burlacu, Alexandru Staris (46′ Serghei Svinarenco), Artiom Rozgoniuc, Dan Taras, David Androvic, Dinu Graur, Danu Spataru (63′ Alexandru Boiciuc), Eugenius Rebenja, Radu Rogac, Ilie Damascan (90′ Vadim Paireli).
Referee: Stavros Manolas (GRE)