A goal by Charles Abi on the 35th minute handed France a narrow win over Malta in a match from Group 6 of the UEFA Under-19 Championship qualifying round at the Centenary Stadium on Wednesday.
Led by coach Winston Muscat, the Maltese youngsters produced a disciplined performance to frustrate their more-quoted opponents who eventually prevailed thanks to Charles Abi’s first-half goal. Amara Sylla, the Malta Under-19 goalkeeper, produced a reassuring display as the entire Maltese team played a collective game against the strong French team.
France created some early chances with captain Claudio Gomes, Maxence Caqueret and Alexis Flips missing the target from good positions.
Photo: Copyright © Domenic Aquilina/MFA
Les Bleus broke the deadlock after 35 minutes. Giulian Biancone advanced on the right before serving Abi who fired a diagonal shot past Sylla.
France continued to see more of the ball in the second half but the Maltese players held firm.
With 10 minutes remaining, France came close to a second goal but Julien Ponceau’s shot was blocked by the Malta defenders. Three minutes from time, France threatened again but Solet’s header hit the post.
In another match from Group 6, Belgium defeated Lithuania 5-0 thanks to a Loïs Openda penalty on the 29th minute, an own goal by Ernestas Mockus on the 38th, a goal by Thierry Lutonda on the 58th and a brace by Tom Reyners on the 72nd and the 80th.
Malta faces Belgium on Saturday, kick-off at 14:15 on Saturday.
FRANCE Ilan Meslier, Arthur Zagre (88′ Rayan Ait Nouri), Oumar Solet, Claudio Gomes, Aurélien Tchouameni (79′ Théo Ndicka Matam), Maxence Caqueret, Alexis Flips, Charles Abi (67’ Wilson Isidor), Giulian Biancone, William Saliba, Julien Ponceau.
MALTA Amara Sylla, Alexander Satariano, Dejan Debono, Shaun Dimech, Ayrton Attard, Marcus Grima, Paul Mbong (74′ Andrei Spiteri), Zak Grech, Christian Gauci, Adam Magri Overand (89′ Clyde Bouvet), Carlo Zammit Lonardelli (85′ Jamie Sixsmith).
Referee: Duje Strukan (CRO)
Assistant referees: Goran Perica (CRO), Serkan Olguncan (TUR)
Fourth official: Ali Palabıyık (TUR)