Armenia beat Malta in a dramatic penalty shootout to win the second game of the UEFA U16 Development Tournament on Saturday after a 2-2 draw.
In order to comply with UEFA rules for such a tournament, coach Andrea Vella made a number of alterations to the starting line-up, replacing 7 players. These rules are set up to place more of an emphasis on player development than on the competition itself.
Photos courtesy of www.stephengatt.com
Malta had the upper hand for the entirety of the game in a contest marked by a lot of wind, but they let Armenia surprise them by scoring twice in the opening 15 minutes of the second half.
Malta started on a good note trying the goalkeeper twice during the first fifteen minutes of the game. On the 10th minute, Keyon Ewurun was able to get past two defenders, but the Armenian goalkeeper Khachartyan saved his shot by turning it into a corner.
The Maltese boys managed to break the deadlock after Emerson Piscopo produced a stunning shot who beat the Armenia goalkeeper. Malta were dangerous on other occasions, with Keyon Ewurun, Adam Vella and Jerome Baldacchino failing to find the net.
At the interval, Armenia made four changes including substitute David Harityunyan in the line up who eventually scored in the 46th minute. 12 minutes later the same player fired another scorcher from outside the box to beat Maltese goalkeeper Miguel Camilleri.
Despite being down a goal, the Maltese persisted in applying pressure. Malta produced a few opportunities and had more possession. Malta’s Jake Borg and Ubada Hijazi engaged in a solid exchange that ended with the latter’s shot being deflected into a corner by Armenia’s defensive line. Luke Bugeja’s corner kick into the box was headed on by Denzil Muscat towards the Armenian custodian who partially saved this wonderful opportunity for the boys in red.
Armenia were a few minutes away from their first victory in the tournament but second-half substitute Ubada Hijazi scored in the dying minutes to put the game in a draw forcing penalties.
Jake Borg, and Ubada Hijazi both saw their penalty saved by the Armenian goalkeeper, whilst Denzil Muscat shot wide. Shelom Magri managed to convert his penalty.
Armenia scored three of their penalties, whilst goalkeeper Miguel Camilleri denying Gary Grigoryan was not enough with the visitors bagging the two points.
The Maltese selection will return to action on Tuesday when they host Iceland in their last game from this tournament. The game will be played at the Tony Bezzina Stadium (kick-off 15:00)
Malta Miguel Camilleri, Adam Vella (Jayden Vella 81’), Jake Borg, Karl Grima (Shelom Magri 60’), Nathan Joyce (Sheldon Borg 60’), Eslam El-Nasar (Lydon Seychell 81’), Emerson Piscopo (Claude Mercieca 60’), Jerome Baldacchino, Keyon Ewurun (Hijazi Ubada 60’), Thomas Melillo (Luke Bugeja 60’), Nathan Zerafa (Denzil Muscat 60’).
Armenia Gabrielyan Cache, Mayis Khachatryan (Aram Aharonyan 46’), Henzel Baghoyan, Karen Hovakimyan, Vahe Karapetyan, Sedrak Movsisyan (Antony Sardarian 66’), Arame Minasyan (Gagik Meloyan 46’), Aleks Galstyan (Artak Galstyan 46’), Lucas Yessayan (Gary Grigoryan 46’), Artak Galstyan (David Harutyunyan 46’), Khosrov Ghazaryan.
Referee Anthony Paul Vella