First-half goals pave way for comfortable Romania win

Romania scored three in the first half as they registered a comfortable 4-0 win over Malta at the National Stadium on Monday in another match from Group F of the European Qualifiers leading to EURO 2020.

The visitors were clearly a better side right from the start as they aimed for a second win in the group. Romania join Sweden in second place on the seven-point mark, five behind leaders Spain. Spain defeated Sweden 3-0 in Madrid. Norway moved fourth on five points following a 2-0 win away from home against the Faroe Islands, leaving Malta on the three-point mark and Faroe Islands at the bottom without any points.

Following the 3-0 defeat to Sweden at the Friends Arena in Solna on Friday, Malta coach Ray Farrugia opted for two changes as he replaced Jake Grech and Luke Montebello with the more experienced Joseph Zerafa and Paul Fenech.

The locals’ performance was quite disappointing although Alfred Effiong had a couple of good scoring opportunities thanks to which Malta could have reduced the lead.

Romania forged ahead on the 7th minute when following a cross from the left by Nicușor Bancu from the left, the unmarked George Pușcaș somehow managed to deflect the ball past Henry Bonello.

Keșeru sent George Pușcaș through on the 17th minute and the latter rounded Bonello before hitting low but the ball hit the foot of the upright. Two minutes later, in a counter attack for Malta, Juan Carlos Corbalan concluded a good run with shot from outside the area which was saved without particular difficulty by Tătărușanu.

Romania doubled the score on the 29th minute when George Pușcaș exchanged the ball with Claudiu Keșeru on the left with the former hitting low past Bonello with the ball hitting the foot of the upright before ending at the back of the net.

Five minutes later, Alexandru Chipciu made it 3-0 with a rising shot from the left following a Joseph Mbong clearance.

Alfred Effiong replied for Malta with a diagonal shot from the left which scraped past the post on 38 minutes.

Eleven minutes in the second half, off a Luke Gambin throw in from the left, Alfred Effiong’s fine effort just missed the target. Claudiu Keșeru’s free kick from the right was partially saved by Bonello on the 58th. Ten minutes later, Dennis Man had a close-range effort blocked by the Malta goalkeeper. A Răzvan Marin shot from outside the area hit the crossbar.

Ten minutes from time, Romania were reduced to ten men after Alexandru Chipciu received a second yellow card for a reckless tackle on Corbalan.

On the 85th minute, Andrei Agius had a powerful drive deflected by a defender; the ball reached substitute Michael Mifsud whose effort from the right hit the side netting.

However one minute in added time, Romania increased the lead thanks to substitute Dennis Man who received a cross from midfield, concluding a good run on the right by rounding Steve Borg and hitting low past Bonello.

MALTA Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius, Joseph Mbong, Paul Fenech (59′ Jake Grech), Rowen Muscat, Juan Corbalan (84′ Luke Montebello), Alfred Effiong, Joseph Zerafa, Luke Gambin (67′ Michael Mifsud), Zach Muscat.

ROMANIA Ciprian Tătărușanu, Iulian Cristea, Ionuț Nedelcearu (35′ Cristian Săpunaru), Tudor Băluță, Alexandru Chipciu, Ianis Hagi, George Pușcaș, Nicușor Bancu, Claudiu Keșeru (65′ Dennis Man), Răzvan Marin, Alexandru Maxim (74′ Dorin Rotariu).

Referee: Dennis Higler (NED)
Assistant Referees: Davie Goossens, Joost van Zulien (NED)
Fourth Official: Bas Nijhuis (NED)
Yellow Cards: Chipciu, Borg
Red Cards: 80′ Alexandru Chipciu

Attendance: 6,471