The Malta Under-19 side defeated San Marino 1-0 in a friendly match at the Centenary Stadium on Tuesday.
From the starting line-up, only three players had played for the Under-19 team before, namely goalkeeper Miguel Spiteri, midfielder Nikolai Micallef and captain Andrea Zammit. The remaining players were all promoted from the Under-17 squad.
Photos: Copyright Stephen Gatt / Malta FA
The first half was a balanced affair with both sets of players trying to adapt to each other and the scorching heat. The best opportunity came from the visitors in the 11th minute, when Marco Gasperoni had the better of Malta centre-back Isaac Cutajar, but his goal attempt just missed target.
After the break, the hosts gradually found there feet and on 59 minutes, Malta went close to break the deadlock with an angled Matteo Gambin header from a Brooklyn Borg corner. Four minutes after, it was the same Borg who’s shot from just outside the box sailed inches over the crossbar.
In the 76th minute, Malta scored the only goal of the match, thanks to some good work by Jed Valletta, who served another substitute, Brite Ihoumah, beating San Marino goalkeeper Pietro Amici with an angled shot from just outside the box.
The visitors staged a rally late in the match and with two minutes left on the clock, San Marino substitute Massimiliano Morini saw his header ending up on the post. In the rebound, Malta goalkeeper Miguel Spiteri blocked the attempt of Simone Santi in style. Spiteri then made another great save in added time, denying Moroni a possible equaliser.
On Friday morning, both teams will meet a second time at the same venue.
Malta Miguel Spiteri, Zean Leonardi, Isaac Cutajar, Jake Micallef, Nathan Sultana, Matteo Gambin, Nikolai Micallef, Dale Mifsud (Brite Ihuomah 72), Benjamin Hili (Shaisen Attard 67), Andrea Zammit (Jed Valletta 72), Brooklyn Borg (Jamie Scerri 78)
San Marino Pietro Amici, Nicola D’Addario (Michele Ercolani 46), Andrea Dolcini, Luca Terenzi (Diego Zavoli 81), Alberto Guerra, Alessandro Gambalvo, Marco Gasperoni (Massimiliano Moroni 76), Simone Santi, Marco Pasolini, Filippo Pasolini, Nicholas Lisi (Matteo Guidi 42).
Referee Philip Farrugia (Malta)