A goal by substitute Ari Mohr Jonsson enabled the Faroe Islands to hold Malta in a 1-1 draw in the final match from Group D1 of the UEFA Nations League at the National Stadium on Tuesday to enable his side to win the group and secure promotion to League C.
Expectations were high prior to the game as Malta was coming from a series of six positive results and three consecutive wins, including the last two Nations League matches against Latvia and Andorra. However the odds favoured the visitors as the visitors needed just a draw to secure top spot while Malta counted only on a 1-0, 2-1 or a win by at least a two-goal margin.
Despite this heartbreaking finale, all in all it was a most positive campaign for the national team, considering that for a first time, Malta managed to collect nine points from a group apart from extending the positive run to seven matches.
During the first half, the two teams shared the exchanges although the Faroe Islands had a slight edge over the Maltese. However, in the second half, the Maltese went in search of the goal which could have given them victory. They managed to take the lead but the Faroe Islands notched the equaliser and held on in the remaining twenty minutes to secure a historic promotion.
Coach Devis Mangia made just one change to the team which defeated Andorra as Steve Borg replaced Karl Micallef. Henry Bonello started in goal with Borg, Andrei Agius and Kurt Shaw at the back, Joseph Mbong and Ryan Camenzuli on the flanks, Matthew Guillaumier and Teddy Teuma in midfield with Luke Gambin, Jurgen Degabriele and Luke Montebello in attack.
The Faroe Islands went close early in the game as Hallur Hansson served Joannes Bjartlid who rounded Steve Borg on the right but then was anticipated by Shaw. Malta replied with a freekick by Camenzuli for Luke Gambin with the latter’s conclusion blocked by a defender.
Off a cross by Solvi Vatnhamar from the right, Klaemint Olsen passed the ball back to Joannes Bjartalid whose powerful shot was blocked into a corner by Bonello. Ryan Camenzuli, then had a shot from the left, saved by the Faroese goalkeeper, following an assist by Mbong.
Six minutes in the second half, Joseph Mbong concluded a fine move on the right with an assist for Luke Gambin who slotted the ball past Teitur Gestsson but the goal was disallowed for Gambin’s offside position.
On the 54th minute, Malta, however, forged ahead when off Teddy Teuma’s cross, Andrei Agius tried to pass the ball back with Hallur Hansson deflecting the ball and Matthew Guillaumier took the loose ball, hitting hard past the Faroe Islands goalkeeper.
The visitors equalised on the 69th minute thanks to substitute Ari Mohr Jonsson who tapped the ball home from close range when served by Solvi Vatnhamar from the right after beating Ryan Camenzuli on the run.
Two minutes later, Bonello performed a great save on Klaemint Olsen. Joseph Mbong then missed a good opportunity on the 76th minute when he controlled a cross from the left but his conclusion from close range was saved without particular difficulty by Gestsson.
Four minutes from time, Matthew Guillaumier tried his luck with a fine rising shot from outside the area but the goalkeeper tipped the ball into a corner.
Photos: Copyright domenic aquilina/MFA
MALTA Henry Bonello, Ryan Camenzuli, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius (84’ Shaun Dimech), Matthew Guillaumier, Joseph Mbong, Luke Montebello (75’ Kyrian Nwoko), Kurt Shaw, Teddy Teuma (89’ Steve Pisani), Jurgen Degabriele (84’ Alex Satariano), Luke Gambin.
FAROE ISLANDS Teitur Gestsson, Viljormur Davidsen, Hallur Hansson (88’ Bartal Wardum), Joannes Bjartalid (61’ Ari Mohr Jonsson), Brandur Henriksson, Gilli Rolantsson, Solvi Vanthamar, Klaemint Olsen (81’ Hilmar Leon Jakobsen), Odmar Faero, Gunnar Vanthamar, Meinhard Olsen (88’ Hedin Hansen).
Referee: Kristo Tohver (EST)