Ten-man Malta lost 2-1 to Estonia in their final match from Group D2 of the UEFA Nations League at the A Le Coq Arena in Tallinn on Friday. A result which effectively meant that Estonia regain promotion to League C.
The Maltese disappointed during the first half, similarly to the home match against Estonia committing a number of mistakes, with Estonia taking the lead before the end of the first half thanks to a penalty. An incident which also led to the dismissal of Jean Borg. In the second half, the team improved and although a Teddy Teuma penalty levelled matters, the boys in red failed to score a second goal with Estonia notching the winner in the dying minutes.
Malta coach Devis Mangia opted for an unusual 4-2-3-1 formation. Cain Attard and Jean Borg were employed at the back with Brandon Paiber as defensive midfielder while Jodi Jones was handed his debut, employed as a left wing.
Photos courtesy of domenic aquilina / Malta FA
The boys in red received a cold shower after just four minutes when Brandon Paiber lost possession to Segej Zenjov who released Konstantin Vassiljev on the right and the latter hit the upright. Vassiljev took the rebound and delivered a cross with Sappinen serving Kallaste who returned the ball to Vassiljev and the latter served Bogdan Vastsuk who slotted the ball home from close range. However the goal was disallowed for a handsball following the VAR check.
Estonia went close once again on the 16th minute with Rauno Sappinen’s header, off a cross from the right, being deflected into a corner by Bonello.
Malta replied with a good move between Jones and Teuma with the ball reaching Ryan Camenzuli whose conclusion hit the side netting on the 21st minute.
On the half-hour, Malta was lucky to escape unhurt once again when Rauno Sappinen received an assist on the left and beat Bonbello with a diagonal shot but the goal was disallowed for an offside.
A cross shot by Vassiljev from the right was neutralised by Bonello on the 33rd and four minutes later, a powerful drive by the same player ended just wide.
Deep into stoppage time, Sergei Zenjov ended on the ground following a rough tackle by Jean Borg. Following VAR check, the referee ordered a penalty and sent off the Valletta defender. From the penalty spot, Rauno Sappinen converted to put Estonia ahead.
Three minutes in the second half, a Ryan Camenzuli effort, deflected by Taijo Teniste and was saved by goalkeeper Karl Hein. Following VAR check the referee ordered a penalty for a handsball and Teddy Teuma made no mistake to level matters.
Estonia missed a good chance to regain the lead on the hour when off a cross by Sappinen from the right, Zenjov just failed to connect from close range.
With the Maltese pushing for the winner, it was Estonia who made it 2-1 four minutes from time as Vassiljev sent substitute Henri Anier through on the left and the latter kept his cool to beat Bonello with a low shot from inside the area.
In added time, Estonia went close to adding another but Karol Mets’ diagonal shot from the left was neutralised by Bonello.
Photos courtesy of domenic aquilina / Malta FA
ESTONIA Karl Hein, Henrik Purg, Markus Soomets, Sergei Zenjov (90+4’ Robert Kirss), Henrik Ojmaa (77’ Vlasly Sinyavskiy), Bogdan Vastsuk (68’ Martin Miller), Konstantn Vassiljev, Rauno Sappinen (68’ Henri Anier), Joonas Tamm, Karol Mets, Ken Kallaste (46’ Teijo Teniste).
MALTA Henry Bonello, Cain Attard (72’ Shaun Dimech), Ryan Camenzuli, Jean Borg, Matthew Guillaumier, Joseph Mbong, Brandon Paiber (72’ Jurgen Degabriele), Enrico Pepe, Alex Satariano (89’ Luke Montebello), Teddy Teuma, Jodi Jones (46’ Steve Borg).
Referee: Daniel Siebert GER
Assistant Referees: Jan Seidel, Rafael Foltyn GER
Fourth official: Christian Dingert GER
Video Assistant Referee: Soren Storks GER
Assistant Video Assistant: Referee Mike Pickel GER
Point of view of one Estonian football fan.
The Maltese players were individually better than the Estonian ones but as the team they were weaker. In the second half Malta attacked more often but they did not pose a threat to Estonia’s defense. Malta’s attacks were toothless, there were no serious attempts on the Estonian goal. Also Estonian defenders did not drive their “branches” apart anymore. At the end of the game Malta gave Estonia a chance which the Estonian team gratefully accepted. Final score 2:1 for Estonia. I respect Maltese team, they continued attacking even while lost the player. Malta deserved a draw. Fortunately for Estonia Maltese team had no good plan for win, they just hoped to kick the goals in any way (by penalty, o.g. etc.). Estonian midfielders and strikers used better wings and had skills to start quick attacks. Also Estonian keeper and defenders stayed strong. Maltese defenders often could not to mark Estonian strikers and block them kicks on goal. There are some tings to repair.
I think Malta have good chance to rise into C division next season. At same time I afraid Estonian team will not stay in C division after next season. Not good times for team. Exchanging of the generations goes hard, no good coach found, most of substitute players are not equal to main players etc. And this shit has been going on for a long time.
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