Under-21 side hold Slovakia U-20 in 1-1 draw

The Malta Under-21 held Slovakia Under-20 in a 1-1 draw, a wonderful result after a dominant second-half performance.

The visitors held the upper hand during the first period and clinically took the lead, but Malta replied well after the break, scoring a well-deserved equalizer.

The result is getting more prestige to know that Slovakia is one of the five European teams taking part in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, which kicks off on 20 May in Indonesia.

Photos courtesy of Joe Borg / Malta FA

Stand-in coach Francesco Macri made only one chance when compared to the first Friendly against Slovakia last Friday (1-2), with Matthew Ellul replacing Zean Leonardi in defense. Ellul crowned the trust with a good performance as all players in red worked hard and showed great cohesion.

During the first period, the Slovaks were the better side but made mistakes during the build-up which proved nearly fatal. Shots by Nicolas Sikula and Mate Szolgai at 6 and 18 minutes respectively were well-paraded by Matthias Debono. On the other side on 20 minutes, center-back James Vella headed inches over the crossbar and in the attack that followed,

Debono again did well to block a Dominik Holly attempt. However, in 28 minutes, Debono was beaten by Balint Csoka’s curling shot from the edge of the box which gave the Slovakians the lead. Three minutes later, a Mattia Veselji attempt was turned into a corner by Samuel Belanik while on 34 minutes, a tricky long-distance shot by Holly sailed inches over the crossbar.

After the break, Malta took over the initiative against their more quoted opponents. Andrea Zammit had a wonderful chance to equalize after being sent through on 48 minutes but Belanik blocked his effort.

At 55 minutes, Jake Engerer was fouled in the box with the referee quite correctly pointing at the spot. Veselji made no mistake from 11 meters, cooly slotting home the equalizer.

Somehow, the Slovaks had no answer to the Maltese attacks, going close on a couple of more occasions with perhaps the best chance to win the Friendly through substitute Gianluca Sciberras halfway through the second period, blasting wide from an ideal position.

All in all a prestigious result against one of the top teams in Europe at this level.

Malta U21:- Matthias Debono, Nikolai Micallef (Kurt Briffa 63), Owen Spiteri, James Vella, Matthew Ellul (Zean Leonardi 87), Matthew Debattista (Gianluca Sciberras 63), Aleandro Garzia, Kurt Bondin, Jake Engerer (Nathan Agius 87), Andrea Zammit (Matthew Mifsud 71), Mattia Veselji (Jed Valletta 87).
Coach: Francesco Macri

Slovakia U20:- Samuel Belanik, Dominik Snajder, Nicolas Sikula, Sebastian Kosa (Samuel Kopasek 71), Luka Jakub, Damian Kachut, Dominik Holly, Mate Szolgai (Matus Kosecek 46, Timotej Jamber 62), Adam Gazi (Adrian Macejko 55), Balint Csoka (Marek Ujlaky 71), Branislav Spacil.
Coach: Albert Rusnak

Referee: Philip Farrugia (Malta)