An own goal and two penalties during the second half handed Sweden a most comfortable 4-0 win at the National Stadium on Saturday in another match from Group F of the European Qualifiers leading to EURO 2020.
Sweden therefore retain a one point lead over Romania in the battle for second place in the group in their bid to secure a place in the EURO 2020 finals.
For Malta, this was the sixth consecutive defeat. More was expected from the team following the fine performance against Romania last month but two fouls in the area which led to two penalties and an own goal could not have made it easier for the visitors after they had taken a narrow lead during the first half.
Malta coach Ray Farrugia made three changes from the team which lost narrowly to Romania as he replaced Steve Borg with debutante Kurt Shaw while Joseph Zerafa and Alfred Effiong stepped in for the injured Juan Corbalan and Jean Paul Farrugia.
The hosts managed to take the lead on the 11th minute when off a Pierre Bengtsson corner from the right, Marcus Danielson, who was making his debut for Sweden, flicked the ball past Bonello.
Robin Quaison had a powerful shot fro outside the area neutralised by Bonello on the 32nd minute. Three minutes later, Bonello was superb with a brilliant save on a Sebastian Larsson freekick.
An Emil Forsberg freekick was saved in two attempts by Bonello on the 40th and towards the end of the first half, shots by Luke Gambin and Kyrian Nwoko were both deflected into corners before Rowen Muscat tested Cagliari goalkeeper Robin Olsen with a powerful shot from the right.
A fierce shot by Bengtsson six minutes in the second half was deflected into a corner by Bonello.
Quaison had a shot blocked into a corner on the 56th minute and from the resulting corner, Mbong pulled Granqvist down inside the area with referee Sergei Ivanov ordering a penalty. From the penalty spot, Sebastian Larsson converted.
The visitors increased the lead on the 66th minute when Forsberg served Quaison on the left and off the latter’s cross, Andrei Agius deflected the ball past Bonello for an own goal.
Substitute Paul Fenech tried his luck with a long-distance shot for Malta on the 69th but two minutes later, Sweden added another thanks to another penalty by Sebastian Larsson after substitute Jonathan Caruana brought Quaison down inside the area.
Following a good move by Alexander Isak on the right, he served Emil Forsberg whose conclusion scraped past the post on the 76th.
Michael Mifsud, who replaced Effiong, had a powerful shot ending high and then, following a good move between him and Gambin, Paul Fenech had an angled shot from the right parried by Olsen.
MALTA Henry Bonello, Andrei Agius, Joseph Mbong, Kyrian Nwoko, Rowen Muscat (68’ Paul Fenech), Dunstan Vella, Kurt Shaw, Alfred Effiong (75’ Michael Mifsud), Joseph Zerafa, Luke Gambin, Zach Muscat (67’ Jonathan Caruana).
SWEDEN Robin Olsen, Michael Lustig, Andreas Granqvist, Pierre Bengtsson, Sebastian Larsson, Albin Ekdal (64’ Gustav Svensson), Marcus Berg (79’ Sebastian Andersson), Emil Forsberg, Marcus Danielson, Kristoffer Olsson, Robin Quaison (71’ Alexander Isak).
Referee: Sergei Ivanov (RUS)
Assistant Referees: Roman Usachev, Valeriy Danchenko (RUS)
Fourth Official: Sergey Lapochkin (RUS)