Malta scored twice in the second half to beat San Marino 2-0 at the San Marino Stadium in Serravalle on Sunday in a match from Group D2 of the UEFA Nations League.
The Maltese failed to impress during the first half but for the second half, Malta coach Devis Mangia made two subsitutions and the referee’s overturning of a decision to award San Marino a penalty were the turning point. In fact, Malta was quick to take the lead, adding another fifteen minutes later.
Malta will be in action once again on Thursday, hosting Estonia at the National Stadium before playing San Marino once again on Sunday.
Devis Mangia made wholesale changes to the team which lost narrowly to Venezuela as Matthew Guillaumier and Enrico Pepe were the only two players to retain their place in the starting line-up. On the other hand, six of the players who were rested were named in the starting eleven. Ryan Camenzuli and Teddy Theuma were ruled out as they were serving a one-match ban.
Henry Bonello started in goal, Steve Borg, Enrico Pepe and Jean Borg were employed at the back with Joseph Mbong and Adam Magri Overend on the flanks, Dunstan Vella and Matthew Guillaumier in midfield with Brandon Paiber supporting Alex Satariano and Jurgen Degabriele in attack.
Photos: Copyright Domenic Aquilina / Malta FA
Matthew Guillaumier had two attempts at goal in the opening minutes, concluding wide from outside the area on the 3rd minute and three minutes later, having a deflected shot saved by Benedittini. The hosts replied with a diagonal shot by Alessandro d’Addario from the right ending just wide on the 9th minute.
On the 12th minute, Dunstan Vella, served by Magri Overend from the left, controlled the ball well but hit wide. Five mintues later, a corner by Michael Battistini from the left was saved in two attempts by Bonello. Malta went close once again on 34 minutes when following a good move between Adam Magri Overend, Alex Satariano and Brandon Paiber, the Floriana midfielder’s powerful shot from outside the area was neutralised by the San Marino goalkeeeper.
For the second half, Juan Corbalan replaced Joseph Mbong and Dunstan Vella made way for Jan Busuttil. Corbalan was employed on the left flank with Magri Overend moving to the right flank.
On the 51st, Busuttil served Corbolan who controlled the ball on the left, testing the San Marino goalkeeper with a shot from outside the area.
Three minutes later, referee Aliyar Aghayev ordered a penalty after Nicola Nanni ended on the ground when challenged by Steve Borg. However the referee changed his decision after the VAR check.
From a potential one goal down, Malta managed to take the lead on the 59th thanks to substitute Jan Busuttil who concluded a fine solo effort with a shot from outside the area which beat goalkeeper Elia Benedittini.
Malta doubled the score on the 75th minute when off a cross by Juan Corbalan from the left, Matthew Guillaumier rose high to anticipate Benedittini and head home.
One minute from time, Malta could have added another when Busuttil released Satariano on the right but the latter’s effort ended just wide.
SAN MARINO Elia Benedittini, Alessandro D’Addario (68’ Tommaso Zafferani), Mirko Palazzi, Luca Ceccaroli (68’ Fabio Tommasini), Michele Cevoli, Michael Battistini (85’ Luca Censoni), Nicola Nanni (85’ Marco Bernardi), Dante Rossi, Danilo Rinaldi (80’ Adolfo Jose Hirsch), Alessandro Golinucci, Lorenzo Lunadei.
MALTA Henry Bonello, Jean Borg (69’ Zach Muscat), Steve Borg, Matthew Guillaumier (87’ Nikolai Muscat), Joseph Mbong (46’ Juan Corbalan), Jurgen Degabriele, Brandon Paiber, Enrico Pepe (90’ Ferdinando Apap), Alex Satariano, Dunstan Vella (46’ Jan Busuttil), Adam Magri Overend.
Referee: Aliyar Aghayev (AZE)
Assistant Referees: Zeynat Zeynalov, Akif Amirale (AZE)
Fourth Official: Rauf Jabarov (AZE)
Video Assistant Referee: Cesar Soto Grado (ESP)
Assistant Video Assistant Referee: Iker De Fransisco (ESP)