Under-16s defeat Lebanon, Under-15s lose narrowly to Hungary

The Malta Under-16 and Under-15 national teams were involved in friendly matches at the Centenary Stadium on Thursday with the Under-16s defeating Lebanon 3-1 and the Under-15s losing 1-2 to Hungary.

The Under-16 side obtained a well-deserved victory over Lebanon.

Coach Andrea Vella made four changes from the game on Tuesday. In defence, Jake Attard and Eslam El Nasar started instead of Lydon Seychell and Shelom Magri. On midfield, Jake Bugeja got the nod ahead of Jerome Baldacchino while up front, Denzil Muscat kept Ubada Hijazi on the bench. But Hijazi entered the fray an hour into the match and scored two of the three goals.

Straight from kick-off, Malta showed the better ideas and three minutes before half-time, Malta took a deserved lead when Claude Mercieca scored from close-range in the rebound after the Lebanon custodian initially blocked a Thomas Melillo attempt.

Lebanon equalised eight minutes in the second half thanks to a rising shot by Sami Merhej, which had the better off Camilleri.

On 68 minutes, Malta regained the lead thanks to a goal by substitute Ubada Hijazi, rounding off a precise cross from the left flank by Muscat. The hosts had a few more opportunities to extent their lead and on 82 minutes, the hosts did strike. There was some excellent pressing work by Ethan Muscat towards Lebanese substitute goalkeeper Rashed Bitar who, in his own box, lost the ball towards the onrushing Hijazi who rounded off into the empty net.

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Malta Miguel Camilleri, Jake Attard (Lydon Seychell 75), Jayden Vella (Adam Vella 61), Eslam El Nasar (Karl Grima 86), Nathan Joyce, Sheldon Borg (Luca Vella 90), Claude Mercieca (Jake Borg 82), Luke Bugeja (Jerome Baldacchino 61), Denzel Muscat (Ethan Muscat 75), Thomas Melillo (Jean Borg 86), Emerson Piscopo (Ubada Hijazi 61).

Lebanon Hsein Kdouh (Rashed Bitar 72), Joseph Hazim, Ahmad Haidar (Ali Hachem 58), Mohamed Atris, Roudy El Hajj, Karim Jaafar (Hassan Safieddine 50), Hamza Tarhini (Elias Hamoush 64), Sami Merhej, Charbel Assaf (Omar Khaled 64), John Nassar (Elio Chaaya 50), Rayan Moukarzel (Mohamad Hakim 50).

Referee: Vladimir Rizoski

Meanwhile an upbeat performance by the Malta Under-15 national team was not enough to avoid defeat in the second friendly international, as Hungary emerged 2-1 winners.

The visitors had the first opportunity and went ahead after just three minutes through an Adam Nyers low shot in the bottom corner from inside the box beating Malta keeper Jayden Farrugia.

A dead ball situation on 16 minutes saw Malta level the score when a free kick from the left, Liam James outjumped the entire Magyar rear guard and struck with his head to beat keeper Balogh.

Hungary restored their lead on 71 minutes when substitute Janos Galambos received the ball in a favorable position, before slotting the ball home successfully behind the Malta keeper.

Malta Jayden Farrugia, Drew Miceli, Liam James, Emerson Mejlak, Ismael Vella, Dale Vella (Kayden Zerafa 14), Scott Camilleri (Keerin Formosa 67), Daniel Pawley, Matteo Paolo Grech (Ethan Brincat Winters 67), Jack Camilleri, Jaylen Zarb (Liam Buhagiar 56).

Hungary Márk Balogh, Kristóf Gulyás, Márton Prettenhoffer, Milán Miták, Péter Milicz, Olivér Árnits, Vince Pesti, Márk Meskó, Ádám Nyers (Janos Galambos 52), Szabolcs Kátai, Barna Kecskés (Erik Magyarics 52)