The Malta Under-16 national team defeated Lithuania 1-0 at the Centenary Stadium on Sunday in the first of two friendly matches, the second one being played this Tuesday. While the hosts had a slight upper-hand in the first half, the visitors took control of the second but missed several chances, also thanks to some excellent goalkeeping by James Sissons.
The first half was quite a balance one with both teams sharing the exchanges. The first half an hour passed without any worth mentioning goalmouth action, but on 31 minutes, Hijazi Ubada had an opportunity for the hosts but his shot was off-target. Sissons made a splendid save on a Brooklyn Leipus top corner shot from the edge of the box on 34 minutes, which was the best goalscoring opportunity for the guests before the break. Three minutes before the half-time whistle, Thomas Melillo volleyed Malta ahead with a splendid first-timer which gave the Lithuanian custodian no chance, a goal which proved to be the winner.
Photos courtesy of www.stephengatt.com
The guests changed a few players at half-time and took over procedures right after the break. There were several chances for the Lithuanians from the 60th minute, but Maltese defence cleared most which came their way.
Airidas Golambeckis could have headed Lithuania next to Malta with a header from a corner action on 68 minutes but the lanky centre-back’s effort missed target. Two minutes later, from a similar action, Dovydas Sasnauskas headed against the upright and in the attack that followed, Sissons turned Rodion Piazenko’s close-range effort into a corner. A few minutes later, another Lithuanian header, this time by Dominykas Taucas, sailed inches over the crossbar. On the other side, on 75 minutes, Ubada missed a golden opportunity to double, but somehow Lithuanian goalkeeper Ernestas Lysionok blocked his close-range attempt.
Two minutes before the end of regular time, a Lithuanian goal was ruled out for an off-side infringement and on the stroke of full-time, Sissons made another splendid save on another Piazenko scorcher.
Both teams will now play again on Tuesday, kick off 17h, same venue.
Malta James Sissons, Jake Attard (Ethan Muscat 77), Jayden Vella (Adam Vella 77), Shelom Magri, Nathan Joyce, Sheldon Borg, Thomas Melillo, Claude Mercieca (Dejan Farrugia 88), Luke Bugeja, Denzil Muscat (Nathan Zerafa 67), Hijazi Ubada (Nathan Grech 77).
Lithuania Ernastas Lysionok, Emilis Kirliauskas, Dovydas Sasnauskas, Airidas Golambeckis, Matias Pastori, Rokas Katkauskas (Matas Ambraziatis 69), Ernestas Zdanovic (Matas Pusnys 46), Kiril Ambrusevic (Dominykas Taucas 46), Majus Zizys, Brooklyn Leipus, Nedas Garbaliauskas (Rodion Piazenko 69).
Referee: Joseph Scerri (Malta)