A penalty just before the end of the first half enabled Slovenia to return to winning ways, defeating Malta 1-0 in another match from Group H of the European Qualifiers leading to the 2022 FIFA World Cup at the Stadion Stožice in Ljubljana on Saturday.
Although the Maltese suffered pressure from their opponents in the early stages, they soon started to share the exchanges with their opponents but a rather dubious penalty enabled the hosts to take the lead. Although Malta failed to earn a positive result from this game, it was yet another good performance for the boys in red.
Coach Devis Mangia made five changes to the team which defeated Cyprus as Zach Muscat replaced Steve Borg at the back, Juan Corbalan deputised for Ryan Camenzuli, Triston Caruana for Steve Pisani while Paul Mbong and Luke Montebello made way for Shaun Dimech and Alex Satariano. Camenzuli, Pisani, Mbong and Montebello were included as substitutes along with Luke Gambin who was back after missing the match against Cyprus.
In the absence of Andrei Agius and Steve Borg, Henry Bonello was named captain.
Photos: Copyright domenic aquilina/Malta FA
The hosts went out in search of an early goal and Bohar threatened with a shot from outside the area ending just over the bar following a erratic clearance by Triston Caruana after just four minutes.
On the 24th minute, following a clearance by Pepe, Sandi Lovric tried his luck with a conclusion from the right but the ball was deflected by Shaw, surprising goalkeeper Henry Bonello, ending in a corner.
Malta went close on the half hour when Cain attracted delivered a cross from the right but Satariano was anticipated by a defender who headed the ball into a corner. From the resulting corner by Teddy Teuma, Kurt Shaw’s header ended high.
Three minutes later, Malta threatened once again this time thanks to Joseph Mbong who concluded a solo effort from outside the area which was not held by Oblak but the Atletico Madrid goalkeeper managed to save the goal just before crossing the goal line.
Two minutes from the end of the first half, referee Andris Treimanis ordered a penalty after Enrico Pepe was adjudged to have pushed Mevlja down inside the area. From the penalty spot, Sandi Lovrić converted to put Slovenia ahead.
In the second half, the two teams shared the exchanges with shots at goal being few and far in between.
Two minutes from time, Slovenia were awarded another penalty after Cain Attard brought Miha Zajc down inside the area but Andraz Sporar’s effort from the penalty spot was neutralised by Bonello.
SLOVENIA Jan Oblak, Jure Balkovec, Jaka Bijol, Sandi Lovrić (70′ Jon Stanković), Benjamin Šeško (70′ Andraž Šporar), Jasmin Kurtić, Damjan Bohar (60′ Domen Črnigoj), Miha Mevlja, Petar Stojanović, Jan Mlakar (60′ Miha Zajc), Adam Gnezda Čerin
MALTA Henry Bonello, Kurt Shaw, Joseph Mbong (73′ Luke Gambin), Enrico Pepe, Juan Corbolan (46′ Ryan Camenzuli), Teddy Teuma, Cain Attard, Alexander Satariano (58′ Luke Montebello), Shaun Dimech (58′ Paul Mbong), Zach Muscat, Tristan Caruana (79′ Steve Pisani).
Referee: Andris Treimanis (LVA)
Assistant referee: Haralds Gudermanis, Aleksejs Spasjoņņikovs (LVA)
Fourth official: Aleksandrs Golubevs (LVA)