Early goal paves the way for North Macedonia win

Malta lost 0-2 to North Macedonia in another match from Group C of the European Qualifiers leading to EURO 2024 at the National Stadium on Tuesday.

Michele Marcolini’s side therefore stays at the bottom of the group without any points after playing five matches. On the other hand, North Macedonia join Italy and Ukraine in second place on seven points, six behind England. However, Italy have a game in hand.

Despite conceding an early goal, the team’s performance in the first half was quite positive but towards the end of the first forty-five minutes, the visitors scored their second goal in their second attempt at goal. In the second half, despite a number of substitutions, the locals did create some goal scoring opportunities but failed to reduce the arrears.

Malta will be facing Italy on October 14 in Bari before hosting Ukraine three days later. 

Photos courtesy of domenic aquilina / Malta FA

Marcolini named his typical formation with two changes from the last qualifier against Ukraine as Enrico Pepe and Bjorn Kristensen replaced Jean Borg and Yannick Yankam.

Henry Bonello started in goal with Steve Borg, Enrico Pepe and Zach Muscat at the back, Joseph Mbong and Ryan Camenzuli on the flanks, Matthew Guillaiumier and Bjorn Kristensen in midfield with Teddy Teuma supporting Jodi Jones and Kyrian Nwoko in attack. 

North Macedonia took just five minutes to forge ahead when off a cross by Ezgjan Alioski from the left, Enis Bardhi served Eljif Elmas whose fine curved shot from the edge of the area beat Bonello.

Malta replied with a cross shot by Ryan Camenzuli which was headed into a corner by Gjoko Zajkov and then Jodi Jones tried his luck with a long-distance grounder which ended just wide. 

However, four minutes from the end of the first half, the visitors doubled the score when off a corner from the left by Bardhi, Johan Manev headed the ball home past Bonello. 

For the second half, Marcolini made three changes as Cain Attard, Yannick Yankam and Luke Montebello replaced Mbong, Kristensen and Jones.

Two minutes in the second half, Steve Borg tested goalkeeper Shiskovski following a freekick by Teddy Teuma. North Macedonia replied with an angled shot by Bardhi which scraped past the post. 

Henry Bonello blocked Ezgjan Alioski’s angled shot from the left, aided by the upright on the 67th and three minutes later, a powerful drive by Camenzuli ended high. Seven minutes from time, Enrico Pepe had a shot from the edge of the area parried by Shiskovski and one minute later, Ryan Camenzuli headed high off a cross by Cain Attard from the right.

Photos courtesy of domenic aquilina / Malta FA

MALTA Henry Bonello, Ryan Camenzuli, Steve Borg, Matthew Guillaumier (89’ Brandon Paiber), Joseph Mbong (46’ Cain Attard), Teddy Teuma, Enrico Pepe, Kyrian Nwoko (72’ Paul Mbong), Bjorn Kristensen (46’ Yannick Yankam), Zach Muscat, Jodi Jones (46’ Luke Montebello).

N. MACEDONIA Damjan Shiskovski, Gjoko Zajkov (79’ Nikola Serafimov), Visar Musliu, Eljif Elmas, Ezgjan Alioski, Enis Bardhi, Jani Atanasov (79’ Agon Elezi), Jovan Manev, Isnik Alimi, Bojan Miovski (90+3’ Milan Ristovski), Bojan Dimoski (86’ Stefan Ashkovski).

Referee: Henrik Nalbandyan (ARM)

Assistant referees: Mesrop Ghazaryan, Artur Gdlyan (ARM)

Fourth Official: Zaven Hovhannisyan (ARM)

Video Assistant Referee: Fran Jović (CRO)

Assistant Video Assistant Referee: Dario Bel (CRO)

Attendance: 3,158