UEFA Nations League: Malta earns first point in a draw with Azerbaijan

Malta earned its first point in the UEFA Nations League D3 thanks to a 1-1 draw with Azerbaijan at the National Stadium on Monday.

The Maltese were eager to bounce back following a 3-1 defeat to the Faroe Islands in Torshavn on Friday. A penalty enabled the locals to take the lead but Azerbaijan restored the equilibrium mid-way through the first half. In the second half, there were few attempts at goal with the visitors having a slight edge.

Next month Malta plays two games away from home against Kosovo and Azerbaijan before the final two matches at home against Kosovo and the Faroe Islands.

Photo (1): Copyright © Andrew Grima

Malta coach Ray Farrugia opted for three changes from the team which lost to the Faroe Islands on Friday as Ryan Camilleri replaced the injured Zach Muscat, Ryan Fenech was preferred to Rowen Muscat while Jean Paul Farrugia replaced Alfred Effiong.

Andrew Hogg started in goal, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius and Ryan Camilleri were employed at the back with Joseph Mbong and Joseph Zerafa on the flanks; Ryan Fenech joined Paul Fenech in midfield with Michael Mifsud and Andre Schembri supporting centre forward Jean Paul Farrugia.

Malta managed to take the lead on the 10th minute when they were awarded a penalty after Michael Mifsud who was brought down inside the area by Badavi Huseynov; from the penalty spot, Andrei Agius made no mistake.

Azerbaijan went close to equalising one the 25th minute when off a cross from the left by Dmitri Nazarov, Mahir Madatov was unlucky to hit the upright from close range.

However a minute later, the visitors equalised when Richard Almeida’s direct freekick was blocked by Andrew Hogg but off the rebound, Tamkin Khalilzade’s fine volley from the left gave the Malta goalkeeper no chance.

Photo (2): Copyright © Mark Galea

Six minutes in the second half, Malta went close with a Paul Fenech header ending just wide off a cross by Joseph Mbong from the right.

For the rest of the second half, the two goalkeepers were hardly tested as Azerbaijan earned its second point following the draw with Kosovo and Malta obtained its first positive result from the group.

Photo Gallery: Copyright © Andrew Grima

Photo Gallery (below): Copyright © Mark Galea

MALTA Andrew Hogg, Joseph Zerafa, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius (51’ Ferdinando Apap), Ryan Fenech (64’ Roderick Briffa), Paul Fenech, Michael Mifsud, Andre Schembri, Joseph Mbong, Jean Paul Farrugia (77’ Alfred Effiong), Ryan Camilleri.

AZERBAIJAN Kamran Agayev, Gara Garayev, Pavlo Pashayev (34’ Urfan Abbasov), Maksim Medvedev, Mahir Madatov, Emin Makhmudov (56’ Javid Imamverdiyev), Rauf Aliyev (68’ Ramil Sheydaev), Dmitri Nazarov, Richard Almeida, Tamkin Khalilzade, Badavi Huseynov.

Referee: Nikola Dabanović (MNE)
Assistant Referees: Milovan Djukić, Jovica Tatar (MNE)
Additional Assistant Referees: Milovan Milacic, Miloš Bošković (MNE)
Fourth Official: Aleksandar Djikanović (MNE)
Attendance: 4,500