Malta and Greece shared the spoils in an entertaining 2-2 draw in a friendly match at the National Stadium on Thursday.
On the eve of the game Malta interim coach Gilbert Agius promised continuity and the locals continued where they had left in the fine win over Israel in September. Despite playing good football, Malta went one goal down but the team reacted well to turn the score in their favour although Greece notched the equaliser late in the game.
This match was another important test as part of the team’s preparation ahead of next year’s European Qualifiers which will put the Malta national team against England, Italy, Ukraine and North Macedonia. Malta will play ainother friendly match against the Republic of Ireland on Sunday.
Agius started with Henry Bonello in goal, Steve Borg, Enrico Peope and Jean Borg at the back, Joseph Mbong and Ryan Camenzuli on the flanks, Matthew Guillaumier and Teddy Teuma as the two central midfielders with Shaun Dimech and Paul Mbong supporting Jurgen Degabriele in attack.
Photos courtesy of www.stephengatt.com
Malta had the first attempt at goal on the 4th minute with a cross shot by Joseph Mbong which was blocked by goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis. Six minutes later, following a good move between Ryan Camenzuli and Teddy Teuma, Joseph Mbong delivered an inviting cross but Jurgen Degabriele from close range failed to connect. The locals maintained the pressure and a low grounder by Teddy Teuma, served by Matthew Guillaumier, from outside the area ended just wide.
Greece replied with a cross by Dimitris Giannoulis from the left on 16 minutes which was parried by Bonello.
The visitors, however, took the lead on thee 39th minute. Dimitris Pelkas approached the area from the left and served captain Anastasios Bakasetas who pulled to the left before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Bonello from inside the area.
Three minutes in the second half, Petros Mantalos released Fotios Ioannidis on the right and the latter’s angled shot was turned into a corner by Bonello.
Malta equalised on the 54th minute when off an assist by Shaun Dimech from the right, Matthew Guillaumier served Jurgen Degabriele inside the area and the Hibs forward was quick to hit home past the Greece custodian.
On the 65th, Malta was awarded a penalty after Andreas Bouchalakis handled the ball following a cross by Paul Mbong. Teddy Teuma converted from the penalty spot to Malta 2-1 ahead.
After an appeal for a penalty by the Greeks was turned down by referee Alain Durieux on the 78th minute, Henry Bonello came to the rescue blocking a powerful Taxiarchis Fountas first-time effort from outside the area on 83 minutes.
Five minutes from time, Greece levelled matters when off a cross by Kiriakopoulos from the left, Taxiarchis Fountas took the rebound and slotted the ball past Bonello.
On the 90th, off a cross by Tasos Chatzigiovanis, a scissor-kick by Fountas was tipped into a corner by Henry Bonello.
MALTA Henry Bonello, Jean Borg (81’ Karl Micallef), Ryan Camenzuli, Steve Borg (46’ Ferdinando Apap), Matthew Guillaumier, Joseph Mbong (52’ Juan Carlos Corbalan), Paul Mbong (81’ Bjorn Kristensen), Enrico Pepe, Teddy Teuma, Jurgen Degabriele (80’ Alexander Satariano), Shaun Dimech (80’ Jodi Jones).
GREECE Alexandros Paschalakis, Georgios Tzavellas (46’ Konstantinos Koulierakis), Dimitris Pelkas (68’ Taxiarchis Fountas), Anastasios Bakasetas (46’ Andreas Bouchalakis), Lazaros Rota, Pantelis Hatzisiakos, Petros Matalos, Dimitris Giannoulis (80’ Giorgos Kiriakopoulos), Tasos Chatzigiovanis, Manolis Stopis (Sotirios Alexandropoulos), Fotios Ioannidis (68’ Anastasios Douvikas).
Referee: Alain Durieux LUX
Assistant Referees: David Mateus Santos, Tom Hansen LUX
Fourth Matthew De Gabriele
Photos courtesy of domenic aquilina / Malta FA