Malta registered its first win since the appointment of Michele Marcolini as the new coach as a goal mid-way through the second half handed them a narrow win over Luxembourg in a friendly match at the Stade de Luxembourg on Friday.
The team’s performance during the first half was rather disappointing but the team improved during the second half as they managed to create goal scoring chances and notched the winner through substitute Kyrian Nwoko.
This win should act as a morale booster for the two matches from the European Qualifiers in programme this month as Malta hosts England at the National Stadium on Friday 16 before travelling to Slovakia to face Ukraine on Monday 19.
Marcolini named Zach Muscat, Jake Grech and Luke Montebello in the starting line-up while Ryan Camenzuli was back after starting the last game on the bench. Enrico Pepe and Teddy Teuma were missing as both are recovering from injuries.
Henry Bonello started in goal with Ferdinando Apap, Steve Borg and Zach Muscat as the three central defenders, Joseph Mbong and Ryan Camenzuli on the flanks, Jake Grech, Matthew Guillaumier and Yannick Yankam in midfield with Jodi Jones and Luke Montebello in attack.
Photos courtesy of www.stephengatt.com
Luxembourg were clearly in control during the first half with the Maltese constantly on the receiving end. A Gerson Rodrigues effort from outside the area was turned into a corner by Bonello on 8 minutes. Following a freekick by Timothe Rupil, a header by Christian Martins was deflected into a corner on 21 minutes and four minutes later, another freekick by Rupil ended just over the bar. Gerson was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a freekick on 36 minutes but in stoppage time, Malta had the first attempt at goal with a freekick from the left by Guillaumier blocked by goalkeeper Ralph Schon.
In the second half, the Maltese showed remarkable improvement as they tried to create much more. On 57 minutes, they went close with a Jodi Jones freekick which was deflected into a corner and off Matthew Guillaumier’s corner from the left, a header by Zach Muscat hit the upright.
Jodi Jones went close once again with a great freekick on 63 minutes which was turned into a corner by goalkeeper Tiago Pereira but from the resulting corner by Guillaumier, Kyrian Nwoko headed home past the Luxembourg goalkeeper to put Malta ahead.
Luxembourg replied with a Gerson Rodrigues freekick which was parried by Bonello on 74 minutes. However a few seconds later, Malta threatened once again with a Joseph Mbong diagonal shot from the right which scraped past the post. Substitute David Jonathans tested Bonello with a shot from outside the area two minutes from time.
LUXEMBOURG Ralph Schon (46’ Tiago Pereira), Maxime Chanot (65’ Fabio Lohei), Floriana Bohnert (87’ David Jonathans), Yvandro Borges Sanches (74’ Eldin Dzogovic), Christopher Martins (74’ Dejvid Sinani), Gerson Rodrigues, Dirk Carlson, Leandro Barreiro, Laurent Jans, Mathias Olesen, Timothe Rupil (65’ Alessio Curci).
MALTA Henry Bonello, Ryan Camenzuli, Steve Borg, Matthew Guillaumier, Joseph Mbong (76’ Juan Corbalan), Jake Grech (46’ Bjorn Kristensen), Luke Montebelllo (46’ Kyrian Nwoko), Jodi Jones, Yannick Yankam, Zach Muscat, Ferdinandoi Apap (82’ Jean Borg).
Referee: Eldorjan Hamiti ALB
Assistant referees: Rejdi Avdo ALB. Ilir Tartaraj ALB
Fourth official: Jérémy Muller LUX