Malta recovered from an early scare to beat Andorra 3-1 in another match from Group D1 of the UEFA Nations League at the National Stadium on Saturday.
A win which puts Malta two points behind leaders Faroe Islands ahead of their clash with Latvia in Riga later on Saturday.
This was the second consecutive win for Malta in the group and the sixth consecutive positive result, including the two friendly matches against Gibraltar last month and Liechtenstein last Wednesday.
Devis Mangia opted to start with Kurt Shaw and Karl Micallef as central defenders together with captain Andrei Agius and with Luke Montebello up front, supported by Jurgen Degabriele and Luke Gambin. It was otherwise a typical formation with Henry Bonello in goal, Joseph Mbong and Ryan Camenzuli own the flanks, Matthew Guillaumier and Teddy Teuma in midfield.
Leading the team from the bench, in the absence of the suspended Devis Mangia, was his assistant Davide Mazzotta.
Malta received a cold shower after just two minutes when off a freekick by Joan Cervos, Matthew Guillaumier headed the ball down and Marc Rebés took the loose ball and slotted the ball past goalkeeper Henry Bonello to put Andorra ahead. This was ironically their first goal in the group.
Malta replied with a cross by Ryan Camenzuli from the left, Luke Gambin chested the ball down and served Joseph Mbong from whose assist Luke Montebello flicked the ball over the bar on the 13th minute. Teddy Teuma then hit the crossbar with a fierce drive from outside the area on 29 minutes. Six minutes later, goalkeeper Josep Gomes blocked a shot from the left by Ryan Camenzuli. On the 38th minute, Montebello headed high off a Teddy Teuma corner from the right.
Ten minutes in the second half, Malta levelled matters when off a Teddy Teuma corner from the right, Emili Garcia, in an attempt to anticipate Andrei Agius hit home past goalkeeper Josep Gomes.
Three minutes later, Malta went 2-1 ahead when off a cross by Luke Gambin from the right, Jurgen Degabriele headed home in style.
These goals filled the locals with courage and were now keeping their opponents under constant pressure apart from isolated attempts to create counter-attacks by Andorra.
Three minutes in added time, Malta sealed the issue with a third goal when substitute Jake Grech concluded a good run with a low shot from the right, just inside the area which was partially saved by the Andorra goalkeeper and off the rebound, another substitute, Shaun Dimech, tapped the ball in.
Photos: Copyright domenic aquilina/MFA
MALTA Henry Bonello, Ryan Camenzuli, Karl Micallef, Andrei Agius, Matthew Guillaumier (84’ Steve Pisani), Joseph Mbong, Luke Montebello (76’ Alex Satariano), Kurt Shaw, Teddy Teuma, Jurgen Degabriele (89′ Jake Grech), Luke Gambin (89′ Shawn Dimech).
ANDORRA Josep Gomes, Cristian Martinez (77’ Victor Bernat), Albert Alavedra, Marc Rebes (77’ Luis Blanco), Emili Garcia, Alex Martinez (69’ Luigi San Nicolas), Marcio Vieira, Jordi Alaez, Moises San Nicolas, Ricard Fernandez (69’ Aaron Sanchez), Joan Cervos.
Referee: Peter Kralović (SVK)
Assistant Referee Peter Kováč, Erik Weiss (SVK)
Fourth Official: Michal Ocenáš (SVK)
Yellow Cards: Vieira, Alavedra, Montebello