A goal by Steve Borg six minutes in added time handed Malta a 1-0 win over Latvia in a match from Group D1 of the UEFA Nations League at the Daugavas stadions in Riga on Tuesday.
It was a great performance by Devis Mangia’s side which fought hard to achieve another positive result following the two draws in the last two matches against Latvia at home and against Andorra away from home last Saturday.
This win – the first win in a competitive match away from home since the narrow win over Armenia in 2013 – puts Malta in second place in the group, behind leaders Faroe Islands, before the final two matches in the group next month – two home matches against Andorra and the Faroe Islands.
Photos: Copyright © domenic aquilina/MFA
For this game, Mangia made three changes as Matthew Guillaumier was back after serving a one-match ban, replacing Steve Pisani wile Kurt Shaw and Luke Montebello replaced Zach Muscat and Jurgen Degabriele respectively.
Malta once again enjoyed more ball possession throughout the ninety minutes and compared to Saturday’s match against Andorra, the team created more goal-scoring opportunities.
After hardly one minute, Ryan Camenzuli tested Steinbors with a shot from the left. Latvia replied with an Ikaunieks effort from the right ending just wide when served by Cigaņiks.
A Luke Gambin corner from the left was blocked in style by the Latvian goalkeeper and then Teddy Teuma had a powerful drive ending just wide on 28 minutes. Latvia replied with a Ikaunieks effort which missed the target by a whisker on the half hour and three minutes later, Savaļnieks had a shot from the right turned into a corner by Bonello.
Six minutes in the second half, Malta missed an excellent goal scoring opportunity when after exchanging the ball with Luke Gambin, Teddy Teuma delivered an inviting cross from the right and Ryan Camenzuli had his first attempt blocked and his second saved by the goalkeeper.
Six minutes later, Luke Gambin tried his luck with a powerful drive which was turned into a corner by the Latvian goalkeeper. The hosts replied with a Savaljevs freekick which was neutralised by Bonello
Six minutes in added time, Malta was awarded a freekick on the left. Steve Pisani delivered a perfect freekick and Steve Borg rose high to head home past goalkeeper Šteinbors to hand Malta the three points.
LATVIA Pavels Steinbors, Marcis Oss, Kristers Tobers (63′ Eduards Emsis), Davis Ikaunieks (64′ Martins Kigurs, Janis Ikaunieks, Roberts Savalnieks, Raivis Jurkovskis, Andrejs Ciganiks (84′ Alvis Jaunzems), Arturs Zjuzins (54′ Kriss Karklins), Igors Tarasovs, Vladislavs Gurkovskis (64′ Roberts Uldrikis).
MALTA Henry Bonello, Ryan Camenzuli, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius, Matthew Guillaumier, Joseph Mbong, Luke Montebello, Kurt Shaw, Teddy Teuma (75′ Steve Pisani), Paul Mbong (69′ Jurgen Degabriele), Luke Gambin (89′ Jake Grech).
Referee: Iwan Arwel Griffith (WAL)
Assistant referee: Lewiss Edwards, Ian Bird (WAL)
Fourth official: Robert Ian Jenkins (WAL)
Better performance by our players by a mile. Good game to watch. Well done tonight for the win. Good goal by Borg. He deserves it. Go MALTA.
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