The Malta Under-21 side lost 4-0 to Slovakia in another match from Group C of the UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifying round at the FC Nitra Stadium in Nitra on Tuesday.
Coach Gilbert Agius named three changes from the Lithuania match on Friday with Alexander Satariano back from the senior squad, restored in attack and in his unfamiliar number 2 shirt, he replaced from the start in a forward position Mattia Veselji. In goal, Nocerina keeper Rashed Al-Tumi deputised for Cain Formosa while Melita’s Karl Mohnani replaced the injured Aleandro Garzia.
Slovakia proved to be too strong for Malta after losing by the odd goal in five to Spain last week and had the luxury to play most of the match without star player Martin Svidersky who plays his trade with the U23 side of Manchester United before coming on as a late substitute fifteen minutes from the end.
Nine minutes on the clock first attempt by Slovakia, Matej Trusa tried his luck from an acute angle the ball just wide from Al-Tumi’s goal.
Apart from that the boys were able to withstand an early flurry of chances and also started to trouble Slovakia, in one occasion with a fantastic move between several players which ended with Satariano’s low shot from inside the box blocked by a Slovakian defender.
In the beginning, the Malta side was a joy to watch countering with speed and precision, showcasing the hard work they produced in the three weeks they’ve been together.
By time Slovakia did increase their tempo and on 23 minutes after a Malta player lost the ball in a dangerous area in the middle of the park, Slovakia did punish and took the lead when Matej Trusa found the bottom corner with a neat low drive beating keeper Al-Tumi.
On the 36th, a swift counterattack resulted in Trusa whipping in a pinpoint cross from the right flank finding Jakub Kadak who headed home from close range to double the score.
That was harsh for the boys who suffered this second goal against the run of play as they were playing well and showing character and resilience upon conceding.
Immediately after the restart, the match descended into a low-key affair as Malta were keeping their hopes alive for a more respectable result, they did try to push forward and create opportunities, however it was Slovakia again with Peter Kovacik who surged forward on the right, his low solo effort was impressively blocked by keeper Al-Tumi.
Slovakia did make it three on 65 minutes, a brace for Matej Trusa heading home after another swift counter leaving Malta players helpless in their efforts to pull one back.
They added a fourth on 81 minutes with a flawless penalty shot in the bottom corner by Matej Tuma scoring his hat-trick despite keeper Al-Tumi marking the shot and was inches from saving with his fingertips.
The match ended with a final opportunity for Malta in time added on as Satariano surged clear on goal, but his shot was saved by the Slovakian keeper Ivan Krajcirik who came out of his box sharply to deny the Malta striker.
Slovakia Ivan Krajcirik, Tomas Nemcik, Peter Pokorny (Martin Svidersky 78), Roland Galcik (Matus Kmet 78), Matej Trusa, Sebastian Kosa, Jakub Kadak (Sebastian Nebyla 60), Adrian Kapralik (Adam Goljan 68), Ivan Mesik, Jan Bernat (Filip Lichy 68), Peter Kovacik.
Malta Rashed Al-Tumi, Alex Satariano, Christian Gauci (Larens Vella 85), Marcus Grima, Ayrton Attard (Adam Bradshaw 85), Andreas Vella, Karl Mohnani, Carlo Zammit Lonardelli, Matthew Ellul, Bradley Sciberras (Jamie Sixsmith 72), Jake Engerer (Mattia Veselji 57).
Referee: Eldorjan Hamiti (ALB)
Assistant Referees: Rejdi Avdo, Alfred Shkreta (ALB)
Fourth Official: Indrit Myrtaj (ALB)