Malta managed to take the lead early in the game but an own goal and a penalty towards the end of the first half led to a 1-3 defeat to Ukraine at the National Stadium on Tuesday in another match from Group C of the European Qualifiers leading to EURO 2024.
Following the disappointing performance against Italy, Michele Marcolini’s side produced a much improved display but mistakes which could have easily been avoided allowed Ukraine to turn the score in their favour and eventually seal the issue with another goal to take home three important points which put them three points ahead of Italy as they keep the pace with England.
Malta, on the other hand, remain anchored at the bottom of the table without any points after seven matches. The last match from the group is at Wembley Stadium against England in a month’s time.
Photos courtesy of www.stephengatt.com
Michele Marcolini made four changes to the team which lost to Italy as Ferdinando Apap, Zach Muscat, Bjorn Kristensen and Luke Montebello made way for the returning Steve Borg, Jean Borg, Nikolai Muscat and Kyrian Nwoko.
Henry Bonello started in goal with Steve Borg and Jean Borg joining Enrico Pepe in the back three; Joseph Mbong and Ryan Camenzuli were retained on the flanks while Nikolai Muscat joined Matthew Guillaimier and Yannick Yankam in midfield with Kyrian Nwoko partnering with Paul Mbong in attack.
Malta took the lead on the 12th minute when Matthew Guillaumier served Kyrian Nwoko who sent Paul Mbong through and the Birkirkara forward advanced before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin.
As expected, the visitors tried to react but the locals hardly allowing to shoot at goal and on 36 minutes, Henry Bonello managed to block a powerful Mykhailo Mudryk effort, who, however, was in an offside position.
Two minutes later, Ukraine levelled matters when Artem Dovbyk served Georgiy Sudakov inside the area and the latter’s diagonal shot was deflected by Ryan Camenzuli past Bonello for an own goal.
Three minutes later, Ukraine were awarded a penalty after Joseph Mbong floored Mudryk inside the area. From the penality spot, Artem Dovbyk converted despite the fact that Bonello had guessed the direction of the ball.
On the 45th, Malta was unlucky not to equalise when off an assist by Joseph Mbong from the right, Matthew Guillaumier hit the crossbar.
Deep into stoppage time, Bonello rushed out of the area to clear the ball off the feet of Dovbyk with Mudryk taking the clearance and testing the Malta custodian who managed to deflect the ball into a corner.
Two minutes in the second half, Yankam served Paul Mbong who tested Trubin with a curved shot which was parried by the Ukraine goalkeeper. A powerful shot from outside the area by Kyrian Nwoko was partially saved by Trubin with the ball cleared into safety by a defender.
A powerful shot by Mudryk was turned into a corner by Bonello on the 71st but four minutes later, Joseph Mbong went close once again for Malta with a powerful shot from outside the area which ended just over the bar.
However five minutes from time, Mykhailo Mudryk sealed the issue with a third goal for Ukraine, concluding a good move with a powerful drive from outside the area which gave goalkeeper Henry Bonello no chance.
In added time, Ukraine could have added another but Yukhym Konoplia’s diagonal shot from the right was turned into a corner by Bonello.
Photos below courtesy of Domenic Aquilina / Malta FA
MALTA Henry Bonello, Ryan Camenzuli, Steve Borg, Matthew Guillaumier, Joseph Mbong (78’ Cain Attard), Paul Mbong (87’ Luke Montebello), Enrico Pepe, Kyrian Nwoko (69’ Alexander Satariano), Nikolai Muscat (69’ Bjorn Kristensen), Yannick Yankam (87’ Steve Pisani), Jean Borg.
UKRAINE Anatoliy Trubin, Serhiy Sydorchuk, Georgiy Sudakov (67’ Yehor Nazaryna), Mykhailo Mudryk, Artem Dovbyk, Illia Zabarnyi, Vitaly Mykolenko, Oleksandr Zinchenko (87’ Oleksandr Pikhalonok), Vladislav Vanat (67’ Yukhym Konoplia), Oleksandr Karavalev (76’ Oleksandr Zubkov), Mykola Matviyenko (46’ Oleksandr Svatok).