Under-21 side loses 2-1 to Lithuania

The Malta Under-21 side lost 2-1 to Lithuania in their third match from Group C of the UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifying round at the SRC Alytus Stadium.

Coach Gilbert Agius made three changes to the team which lost heavily to Russia as Adam Magri Overend has been selected with the senior side, meaning an opportunity as left back and full debut in competition for Santa Lucia wing-back Andreas Vella.

Returning in the starting formation also Valletta defender Christian Gauci and Floriana forward Mattia Veselji having both missed the Russia match due to slight knocks.

The Malta team crowded the middle of the park in an initial 3-4-3 tactical shape transforming in a more reassuring 5-4-1 when under pressure.

On 21st minute first attempt for Malta a direct freekick by Marcus Grima went sailing over the cross bar, Lithuania replied on the half hour mark taking advantage from a slip-up in the Malta defence, with Klimavicius firing wide from just outside the box.

As pressure continued to mount on 32 minutes an overhead kick by captain Karolis Uzela went inches over the bar following an inch-perfect cross for Lithuania from the right.

On 38 minutes deadlock broken from a dead-ball situation leading to a low shot from distance by Titas Milasius the ball passing through several legs to completely surprise Malta keeper Cain Formosa and give Lithuania the lead before the interval.

Four minutes later the Baltic side thought they doubled the score, but their effort was correctly ruled out for offside, the first 45 minutes ending in a 1-0 lead for Lithuania.

Second half and Lithuania doubled the score on 56 minutes when Tomas Kalinauskas converted from the penalty spot, in the incident that led to this setback for Malta, right wingback Alejandro Garzia suffered an injury forcing coach Gilbert Agius to make his first and an early unforced change with Karl Mohnani coming on just before the hour mark.

Towards the end of the match a penalty shout for Malta was unnoticed by Romanian referee before substitute Jamie Sixsmith in time added on blasted an accurate shot from outside the box finding the bottom far post corner comfortably beating the Lithuanian keeper to earn a deserved consolation goal for the boys in Red, who albeit emerging defeated can definitely commend a much-improved performance compared with previous outing.

The Malta Under-21 side will be back in action early next week yet again on away soil as they face Slovakia in Nitra on Tuesday night.

Lithuania Kajus Urbietis, Valdas Paulauskas, Vilius Armalas, Artur Dolznikov (Nauris Petkevicius 46), August Klimavicius (Darius Zubauskas 69), Titas Milasius (Benas Anisas 79), Natanas Zebrauskas, Karolis Uzela, Matas Ramanauskas (Karolis Zebrauskas 69), Tomas Kalinauskas (Vilius Piliukaitis 80), Dovydas Jansonas.

Malta Cain Formosa, Christian Gauci, Marcus Grima, Ayrton Attard (Larens Vella 87), Andreas Vella, Mattia Veselji (Victor Degiorgio 78), Aleandro Garzia (Karl Mohnani 57), Carlo Zammit Lonardelli, Matthew Ellul (Hibernians FC), Bradley Sciberras (Jamie Sixsmith 79), Jake Engerer (Jamie Carbone 78).

Referee: Marcel Birsan (ROM)