Zach Muscat hands Malta narrow win over San Marino

A goal by Zach Muscat early in the second half handed Malta a narrow win over San Marino at in a match from Group D2 of the UEFA Nations League at the National Stadium on Sunday.

A win which maintains alive hopes of winning the group although Devis Mangia’s side needs to win in Estonia by two goals or at least win by scoring at three goals or more.

Mangia made four changes to the team which lost to Estonia as Steve Borg and Jean Borg made way for Ferdinando Apap and Zach Muscat while Luke Gambin and Luke Montebello were preferred to Alex Satariano and Jurgen Degabriele.

Photos: Copyright

Before the game, a one-minute silence was observed in memory of national team kit manager Mark Piscopo, known as il-Lullu, who passed away on Friday. Malta FA President Bjorn Vassallo presented a bouquet of flowers to his wife while Steve Borg, on behalf of the players. placed another bouquet of flowers on the seat which Lullu usually used to stay.

Photos courtesy of domenic aquilina / Malta FA

Although the locals had seventy two percent of ball possession, the team was finding it difficult to penetrate the San Marino defender.

It was Ryan Camenzuli who had the first attempt at goal with a great cross from the left which was blocked by goalkeeper Elia Benedittini. On the 22nd, following a good move between Gambin and Guillaumier, the latter served Camenzuli whose diagonal shot ended just side.

On the half hour, Montebello received an assist by Teuma from the right but concluded just wide and one minute later, off a cross by Camenzuli, Mbong flicked the ball just wide.

Four minutes from the end of the first half, Teddy Teuma, served by Gambin, tried his luck with a powerful shot from outside the area which ended just over the bar.

Malta showed greater determination in the second half, taking the lead on tehe 50th when off a cross by Camenzuli, Zach Muscat anticipated a defender heading home.

A freekick by Guillaumier on the 57th ended over the bar and one minute later, Mbong, served by Guillaumier had a cross shot palmed out by the goalkeeper.

On the 63rd, Guillaumier delivered a corner from the right, Zach Muscat headed the ball in the direction of Luke Montebello who beat the San Marino goalkeeper. However after the VAR check, the goal was disallowed for Montebello’s offside position.

Malta maintained the pressure and a low shot by Teuma from outside the area was deflected into a cortner by the goalkeeper on the 67th but one minute later, D’Addorio was unluick to hit the foot of the upright with a long-distance shot.

Benedittini deflected a good effort by Mbong from the right into a corner and the resulting corner by Teuma was also deflecgted by the goalkeeper.

The San Marino goalkeeper performed a brilliant save on a Tedy Teuma header following a cross by Mbong from the right on 72 minutes.

Ten minutes from time, Montebello missed a great opportunity, hitting wide from in front of the goalkeepoer following a cross by Camenzuli from the left. Substitute Jurgen Degabriele concluded a good run with a low shot from the edge of the area which was parried by the goalkeeper two minutes later.

Malta maintained the pressure and on the 87th, a cross shot by Mbong ended just ocer the bar and one minute later, Guillaumier sent Degabriele through but the latter’s attempt was neutralised by the San Marino goalkeeper.

Deep into stoppage time, some lose marking allowed the visitors to threaten the Malta rear-guard but Vitaioli finally concluded high.

Photos courtesy of domenic aquilina / Malta FA

MALTA Henry Bonello, Ryan Camenzuli, Ferdinando Apap (78’ Jean Borg), Matthew Guillaumier, Joseph Mbong, Luke Montebello (87’ Alex Satariano), Brandon Paiber (78’ Dunstan Vella), Enrico Pepe, Teddy Teuma, Luke Gambin (71’ Jurgen Degabriele), Zach Muscat.

SAN MARINO Elia Benedittini, Alessandrio D’Addario (79’ Tommaso Zafferani), Mirko Palazzi, Luca Ceccaroli (79’ Adolfo Jose Hirsch), Michael Battistini, Nicola Nanni, Dante Rossi, Andrea Grandoni (61’ Danilo Rinaldi), Filippo Fabbri, David Tomassini (61’ Marcello Mularoni), Lorenzo Lunadei (85’ Matteo Vitaioli).

Referee: Dennis Higler NED
Assistant referees: Erwin Zeinstra, Mario Diks NED
Fourth official: Sander Van Der Eijk NED
Video assistant referee: Jeroen Manschot
Assistant video assistant referee: Allard Lindhout NED