UEFA Under-19 EURO: Improved Malta lose 0-2 to Poland

The Malta Under-19 national team lost 0-2 to Poland in the second match from Group A of the UEFA Under-19 Championship at the Centenary Stadium on Thursday.

Following the defeat to Italy in the first outing, the team showed improvement especially during the first half. The players showed greater determination and after the dismissal of a Polish player, for around fifteen minutes they kept their opponents under pressure. However the second half was a different story and after Poland managed to take the lead and Malta had Dylan Scicluna sent off, Marcin Brosz’s side controlled the proceedings without particular difficulty, scoring another goal to earn three points.

On Sunday, Poland face Italy at the National Stadium in a decisive clash for a spot in the semi-finals while Malta hosts Portugal at the Gozo Stadium. Both matches kick-off at 18:00,

Apart from replacing the suspended Jake Micallef, Malta coach Toze Mendes opted for another two changes as Mattias Ellul and Lucas Caruana started the game on the bench with Tristan Viviani, Benjamin Hili and Daniel Letherby all being named in the starting line-up.

On the 18th, Poland goalkeeper Oliwier Zych tipped into a corner a great freekick by Alfie Bridgman from the right.

Four minutes later, Wiktor Matyjewicz received a second yellow card for Poland following a foul on Bridgman and was therefore sent off.

A direct freekick by Bridgman ended just over the bar on 23 minutes and seven minutes later, a powerful drive by Lucas Scicluna just missed the target. Another powerful shot from outside the area by Dylan Scicluna ended high on the 34th.

Two minutes in the second half, the locals threatened the Polish rearguard once again with Dylan Scicluna finally just wide and hardly a minute later, Alfie Bridgman hit the side netting but soon after, Hugo Sacco came to the rescue for Malta with a fine save.

However Poland managed to break the deadlock on 59 minutes when Igor Strzalek received an assist inside the area and drilled the ball home past the Malta goalkeeper.

The Maltese were reduced to ten men on 61 minutes as Dylan Scicluna was sent off for a tackle from behind on Kowalczyk.

Eight minutes from time, Poland scored the second goal courtesy of substitute Tomasz Pienko who controlled an assist from the left before beating Sacco.

Photos courtesy of domenic aquilina

MALTA Hugo Sacco, Andy Borg (85’ Bjorn Buhagiar), Sven Xerri, Jake Vassallo, Luke Scicluna, Basil Tuma (85’ Sean Gatt), Dylan Scicluna, Benjamin Hili (71’ Lucas Caruana), Tristan Viviani, Daniel Letherby (71’ Nathan Cross), Alfie Bridgman (63’ Brooklyn Borg).

POLAND Oliwier Zych, Igor Drapinski, Milosz Matysik (79’ Dawid Bugaj), Jordan Majchrak (24’ Wiktor Smolinski), Kacper Urbanski, Milosz Brzozowski, Wiktor Matyjewicz, Mateusz Kowalczyk, Junior Nsangou (62’ Tomas Pienko), Dominik Biniek (46’ Kacper Przybyko), Igor Strzalek (78’ Antoni Kozubal).

Referee: Yael Falcon (ARG)
Assistant Referees: Facundo Rodriguez (ARG), Theodoros Georgiou (HUN)
Fourth Official: Gergo Bogar (HUN)