The Malta and Liechtenstein boys had to settle for a goalless draw in the last match of the UEFA Under-16 Development Tournament at the Tony Bezzina Stadium on Monday, the third draw after ninety minutes for the hosts in this Tournament. Malta deserved better but found it, once more, very hard to find the net, this time against a very defensively minded opponent, who created very little up front themselves.
When compared with the goalless draw last Friday with San Marino, which Malta won too after penalties, coach Andrea Vella changed his team on eight places. In fact, only defenders Kayden Farrugia, Nic Briffa and left winger and captain Jake Azzopardi kept their place in the starting line-up. This was to be expected as the team is clearly in an experimental phase and one of the aims of the tournament is to give as many players as chance as possible.
Photo courtesy of www.stephengatt.com / Malta FA
Malta faced an ultra-defensive Liechtenstein who opted for a 5-4-1 system, sitting deep into their own half for the whole of the match. Malta clearly had a hard time to create options up front and it took the hosts relatively long time to settle. Malta’s first goalscoring opportunity arrived just after half an hour play when Nicholas Agius’ header ended up on the wrong side of the post. On 38 minutes, Azzopardi’s corner ended up against the crossbar and two minutes later, Liam Delicata released Azzopardi on the left, who’s attempt was cleared into a corner by Julian Keller.
After the break,Malta steppep up their efforts and on 56 minutes, Ewurum’s header missed target from a Delicata free-kick. Barely a minute later, Ewurum was again close to break the deadlock from a Shaun Carabott cross. On 67 minutes, Liechtenstein goalkeeper Silvan Schadler performed a great save from a close-range Delicata attempt, turning his shot into a corner from an accurate Felippe Bugeja cross. An Aiden Zammit scorcher from the edge of the box was again tipped into a corner by Shadler, who kept his side on level terms at this crucial point. Ewurum had another great opportunity on 77 minutes but blasted his attempt high with only Schadler to beat. Somehow, the guests managed to keep Malta down, despite the continues attacks on the Liechtenstein fort.
However, in the penalty shoot-out, Liechtenstein missed two attempts, while Malta kicked all their four spot kicks behind the Liechtenstein custodian, ending the tournament on a positive note.
In another match, Gibraltar beat San Marino 3-1, finishing the tournament unbeaten with two straight wins and a penalty win against Malta.
Malta Niklas Vella, Kewell Fardell, Kayden Farrugia, Kean Scicluna (Peter Ohaka 76), Nic Briffa (Felippe Bugeja 59), Shaun Carabott (Sasa Glumac 59), Nicholas Agius (Aiden Zammit 59), Benjamin Cassar (Lenny Mattocks 76), Liam Delicata, Jake Azzopardi, Keyon Ewurum.
Coach: Andrea Vella
Liechtenstein Silvan Schadler, Yonas Abidi, Felix Gritsch (Benjamin Konzett 55), Marius Beck (Mischa Schulz 55), Jonas Weissenhofer, Leonat Rizanaj (Matteo Ritter 74), Alessandro Wolf, Noah Marxer (Silvan Lasser 92), Eros Carroccia, Julian Keller, Florian Allgauer.
Coach: Michael Koller
Referee: Reuben Spiteri (Malta)