An experimental Malta national team defeated Gibraltar 2-0 in a friendly match at the National Stadium on Wednesday.
This was the first win for Malta coach Devis Mangia following the narrow defeat to the Faroe Islands in Torshavn and the 1-1 draw with Latvia last month.
Mangia used this match mainly to assess fringe players ahead of the UEFA Nations League away clashes with Andorra on Saturday and Latvia on Tuesday. He named goalkeeper Jake Galea, Samir Arab, Shaun Dimech and English-born Joseph Muscatt in the starting line-up.
Ryan Camenzuli, Matthew Guillaumier and Kyrian Nwoko were the only three players to retain their place in the starting eleven from the last outing as Enrico Pepe, Joseph Mbong and foreign-based Zach Muscat, Luke Gambin and Teddy Teuma were all rested.
Malta had a perfect start, taking the lead on the 8th minute when off a Ryan Camenzuli freekick from the right, Kyrian Nwoko headed the ball home past goalkeeper Kyle Goldwin.
On the 20th minute, Ryan Camenzuli tested the Gibraltar goalkeeper with a direct free-kick which was parried by Goldwin. Gibraltar replied with an Alain Pons corner from the right which was saved by Jake Galea.
Unfortunately, towards the end of the first half, Nwoko had to abandon the pitch injured and was replaced by Luke Montebello.
Substitute Liam Walker had an excellent opportunity to equalise on the 53rd minute when he controlled the ball inside the area, rounding a couple of defenders but hit low with Jake Galea blocking his attempt with his foot.
On 58 minutes, substitute Tjay De Barr had a shot which was blocked by a defender and seven minutes later, a conclusion by Graeme Torrilla ended just wide.
Joseph Muscatt was lucky to escape with a yellow card on the 71st minute following a reckless tackle from behind.
In the remaining minutes, despite a number of substitutions, Malta kept their opponents under control and on the 90th minute, off a cross by Jake Grech from the right, Triston Caruana headed home past Goldwin to double the score.
In added time, a powerful drive by Liam Walker was neutralised by Jake Galea.
Photos (below): Copyright © domenic aquilina/MFA
MALTA Jake Galea, Ryan Camenzuli (60′ Paul Mbong), Andrei Agius (46′ Steve Borg), Matthew Guillaumier, Jake Grech, Kyrian Nwoko (40′ Luke Montebello), Rowen Muscat, Joseph Muscatt (87′ Cain Attard)), Samir Arab (46′ Triston Caruana), Shaun Dimech (60′ Myles Beerman), Kurt Shaw.
GIBRALTAR Kyle Goldwin, Ethan Jolley (49′ Mohamed Barr), John Sergeant, Scott Wiseman, Reece Styche (50′ Tjay De Barr), Jayce Oliver, Kian Ronan (46′ Liam Walker), Erin Barnett (46′ Louie Annesley), Aymen Mouelhi, Alain Pons (63′ Lee Casciaro), Jamie Coombes (46′ Graeme Torrilla).
Referee: Nikola Popov
Assistant Referees: Martin Venev, Miroslav Maksimov