Malta scored two late goals as the boys in red came from behind to beat Israel 2-1 in a friendly match at the National Stadium on Tuesday.
News that coach Devis Mangia was temporarily relieved of his duties on Tuesday morning following allegations of sexual misconduct towards a national team player cast a shadow on the game. However the team managed to bounce back with a positive result which also lifts their morale following the disappointing finale to the UEFA Nations League campaign.
In the first half, the locals had their fair share of scoring opportunities but it was in the second half, that Malta played the better football, cancelling Israel’s lead and turn the score in their favour with two goals.
Malta had five changes from the team which lost to Estonia as coach Davide Mazzotta named Steve Borg, Jurgen Degabriele, Bjorn Kristensen, Shaun Dimech and Jan Busuttil in the starting line-up.
Photos courtesy of domenic aquilina / Malta FA
Israel had the first attempt at goal on the 22nd minute when off a freekick by Natcho, Omri Altman brought the best out of goalkeeper Henry Bonello with a header which was turned into a corher in style by the Malta custodian.
Malta replied with a cross by Camenzuli from the left for Shaun Dimech who was unlucky to hit the foot of the upright from close range with the ball bouncing onto the goalkeeper and into a corner on 29 minutes.
However two minutes later, Israel took the lead when they were awarded a penalty after Steve Borg was adjudged to have fouled Denny Gropper inside the area and from the penalty spot, Bibras Natcho converted.
Five minutes in the second half, Guillaumier served Jodi Jones on the left and the latter’s effort from the edge of the area was blocked by substitute goalkeeper Jarafai.
On the 57th, Jones sent Shaun Dimech through on the left but the latter’s attempt was blocked by a defender and on the 63rd, Joseph Mbong concluded a good move with a low shot which was neutralised by Jarafi. Seven minutes alter, a cross shot by Jones from the left was parried by the goalkeeper.
Eleven minutes from time, Malta went close once again with an Alex Satariano header off a freekick by Teuma from the lef but Jarafi neutralised his attempt. Two minutes later, following a good move between Jones and Teuma, Montebello served Ryan Camenzuli on the left and latter’s effort was blocked by the Estonian gioalkeeper.
Malta notched the equaliser on the 84th when Luke Montebello sent Jodi Jones through on the left and the latter advanced into the area to serve the unmarked Alex Satariano who placed the ball at the back of the net.
Three minutes later, Malta went 2-1 ahead when off a Teddy Teuma corner from the left, Ferdinando Apap headed home past Jarafi.
MALTA Henry Bonello, Ryan Camenzuli, Steve Borg (60’ Ferdinando Apap), Jean Borg (78’ Luke Montebello), Matthew Guillaumier, Joseph Mbong, Jurgen Degabriele (46’ James Brown), Enrico Pepe, Bjorn Kristensen (60’ Teddy Teuma), Shaun Dimech (71’ Alex Satariano), Jan Busuttil (46’ Jodi Jones).
ISRAEL Ofir Marciano (46’ Yoav Jarafi), Maron Ghantus (73’ Guy Badash), Raz Shlomo, Bibras Natcho (66’ Elias Shai), Goni Naor, Shon Weissman (57’ Guy Melamed), Omri Altman, Rotem Hatuel, Or Dadia (57’ Eli Dasa), Tai Baribo (57’ Itamar Shviro), Denny Gropper.
Referee: Eldorjan Hamiti ALB
Assistant Referees: Ridiger Cokaj, Ilir Tartaraj ALB
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann