The Malta Under-16 boys ended their UEFA Development Tournament commitments against a strong Iceland team, who made sure of the win thanks to an excellent first half display at the Tony Bezzina Stadium on Tuesday.
The talented team from Northern Europe scored three great goals before the break, with the locals playing a much better second half, in which they took over the initiative, creating several goal-scoring opportunities themselves.
Photos courtesy of www.stephengatt.com
The guests from Iceland dominated the opening phase from the match and broke the deadlock on 21 minutes when Thomas Arnarsson served Karl Karlsson, who’s grounder had the better of Malta goalkeeper James Sissons. On the half hour mark, Thomas Arnarsson was sent in the clear and made no mistake to double for his side. Five minutes later, Jonathan Arnarsson hit home the third goal of the match, a wonderful top corner scorcher which left Sissons without a chance.
Coach Andreas Vella brough five new players at the start of the second half, which had an immediate effect on the team’s performance. On 56 minutes, Thomas Melillo, one of the newcomers, was sent through on the left flank, beating his direct marker but failed to find the net with the Icelandic custodian saving comfortably.
Just after the hour, Malta pulled one back through Keyon Ewurum, who left substitute goalkeeper Valdimarsson without a chance with an accurate shot from the edge of the box. On 83 minutes, Ubada Hijazi did well to beat his direct marker, entering the box but Valdimarsson made a splendid save to deny the Malta striker. But two minutes later, with Malta searching for a second goal, Iceland finished off a fast counter-attack through Arni Arnason, which put the outcome of the match beyond doubt. In stoppage time, Malta goalkeeper Miguel Camilleri performed a great save on a Jakob Sirgurdsson attempt, turning his effort into a corner.
Earlier on Tuesdat at the same venue, Armenia beat Estonia by the odd goal in three.
With three games in six days against Estonia, Armenia and Iceland, it was another useful learning experience for the boys in red, who will play more of these similar tournaments to get used to the intensity of the international competitive scene, an important asset of modern-day football.
Malta James Sissons (Miguel Camilleri 58), Adam Vella (Lydon Seychell 46), Jake Borg (Jayden Vella 70), Sheldon Borg, Shelom Magri, Eslam El-Nasar (Nathan Joyce 46), Jerome Baldacchino, Luke Bugeja (Thomas Melillo 46), Emerson Piscopo (Ubada Hijazi 46), Denzil Muscat (Karl Grima 46), Keyon Ewurum.
Iceland Jochum Magnusson (Vidir Valdimarsson 46), Eysteinn Sverrisson (Egil Arnarsson 62), Petur Arnasson, Robert Hlynsson (Haraldur Brynjarsson 79), Freysteinn Gudnason (Porri Bergmann 62), Jonatan Arnarsson (Arni Arnason 79), Gunnar Olsen, Karl Karlsson (Jakob Sigurdsson 74), Thomas Arnarsson, Arnor Agustsson (David Aronsson 74), Hilmar Viggosson (Viktor Gudmundsson 62).
Referee Reuben Spiteri (Malta)