With two goals in the dying minutes, the Faroe Islands managed to turn defeat into victory to register a 3-2 win over Malta in a match from Group D1 of the UEFA Nations League at the Tórsvøllur in Torshavn on Thursday.
Before the game, expectations may have not been too high considering that this was the first outing for Malta since November and the fact that Maltese players were practically inactive for five months unlike their opponents who are mid-way through their league campaign. However the performance of the boys in red was good – the way they reacted after conceding a goal mid-way through the first half and how they managed to score twice although the hosts left it till late to score two goals and collect the three points.
Photos courtesy of Malta FA
This game marked the debut of new Malta head coach Devis Mangia. Despite the defeat, there were still a number of positive indications on which the team will hopefully build in view of the coming matches, starting from Sunday’s home match against Latvia.
As expected, the line-up featured a number of changes. Ryan Camenzuli, Steve Pisani and Jurgen Degabriele were back in the starting line-up after a long absence. Paul Mbong and Teddy Teuma made their debut for Malta when they were included as substitutes.
Henry Bonello started in goal with Steve Borg, Andrei Agius and Zach Muscat at the back, Joseph Mbong and Ryan Camenzuli on the flanks, Matthew Guillaimier and Steve Pisani in the middle with Luke Gambin and Jurgen Degabriele supporting Kyrian Nwoko in attack.
The Faroe Islands had a good opportunity on the 5th minute when off a long cross by Hendriksson for Bartaljo who failed to connect from close range.
On the 14th minute, they went close once again when off a good move between Bjartalíð and Hansson, Brandur Henriksson received the ball on the left but his fine shot was neutralised by Henry Bonello.
The Maltese replied with an assist by Gambin for Camenzuli whose cross was headed into a corner by Nattestad.
On 22 minutes, Sølvi Vatnhamar sent Jóannes Bjartalíð through on the right and the latter rounded Steve Borg but concluded just wide when all alone in front of Bonello.
Four minutes later, the Faroe Islands took the lead when Bjartalíð served Vatnahamar and off the latter’s cross from the right, Klæmint Olsen headed home past Bonello.
Andrei Agius appealed for a penalty on the 28th minute after being pushed by Danielsen inside the area but the referee waved play on.
Malta equalised on the 37th minute Jurgen Degabriele served Kyrian Nwoko on the left and off the latter’s assist, Luke Gambin returned the ball to Degabriele who hit home past goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen.
Two minutes from the end of the first half, Malta threatened once again with a powerful drive by Matthew Guillaumier which was blocked into a corner by Nielsen.
Nine minutes in the second half, Klaemint Olsen served Hendriksson whose long-distance shot ended just high. A minute later, Joseph Mbong almost committed an own goal as he hit the woodwork in an attempt to clear into safety a cross from the left by Meinhard Olsen.
Malta hit back with a fine shot by Luke Gambin following an erratic clearance by Nattestad on the 57th minute. Eleven minutes later, Henry Bonello performed a great save at point blank on Klæmint Olsen following a cross from the right by Bjartalíð.
On the 73rd minute, Malta took the lead. Luke Gambin delivered a great freekick from the right and the unmarked Andrei Agius slotted the ball past the Faroe Islands goalkeeper from the left.
Following a cross from the right, Henry Bonello performed good saves, first on Johannessen and then on Soylu, with the ball ending into a corner on 81 minutes. Two minutes later, Luke Gambin, served by Paul Mbong from the left, had a shot from outside the area parried by Nielsen.
Three minutes from time, the Faroe Islands equalised. Sølvi Vatnhamar, serving substitute Andreas Olsen whose diagonal shot from the left beat the Malta custodian.
But the game was not over yet as on the 90th, the hosts regained the lead thanks to a great freekick by Brandur Hendriksson who placed the ball in the top left corner, giving Henry Bonello no chance.
FAROE ISLANDS Gunnar Nielsen, Jóannes Danielsen, Viljormur Davidsen, Heini Vatnsdal, Ragnar Nattestad, Hallur Hansson, Jóannes Bjartalíð (79’ Patrik Johannesen), Brandur Hendriksson, Sølvi Vatnhamar, Klæmint Olsen (71’ Andreas Olsen), Meinhard Olsen (65’ Dan Í Soylu).
MALTA Henry Bonello, Ryan Camenzuli, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius, Matthew Guillaumier (79’ Teddy Teuma), Joseph Mbong, Kyrian Nwoko, Stephen Pisani (85’ Rowen Muscat), Jurgen Degabriele (71’ Paul Mbong), Luke Gambin, Zach Muscat.
Referee: Ádám Farkas (HUN)
Yellow Cards: Vatnhamar, Guillaumier, Nwoko, Danielsen