An early unfortunate own goal paved the way for a 2-0 win for England over Malta in a EURO 2024 qualifier at Wembley Stadium but it was far from an easy win for Gareth Southgate’s side.
It was definitely one of the best performances by Malta in Group C and it was only late in the game that England scored a second goal to make sure of the three points. The boys in red stayed fully focused throughout the ninety minutes, determined not to allow any space to their opponents, showing great aggressiveness from start to finish.
Marcolini handed Kemar Reid his debut as the Floriana forward was preferred to Kyrian Nwoko while Teddy Teuma was back in midfield. Henry Bonello started in goal with Steve Borg, Enrico Pepe and Jean Borg at the back, Joseph Mbong and Ryan Camenzuli on the flanks, Matthew Guillaumier and Teddy Teuma in midfield with Paul Mbong and Yannick Yankam supporting Kemar Reid.
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Malta threatened after just a handful of seconds when Matthew Guillaumier sent Teddy Teuma through and the latter controlled before hitting low from outside the area but his attempt missed the target by a whisker.
However England took the lead on the 8th minute thanks to an unfortunate own goal by Enrico Pepe as the Birkirkara defender deflected a cross from the left by Phil Foden past the helpless Bonello who could only deflect the ball slightly.
Malta replied with a good effort by Paul Mbong which ended just over the bar two minutes later after Matthew Guillaumier intercepted a pass by a defender.
Phil Foden tried his luck with a cross from the left but this time, Bonello neutralised his attempt while Teddy Teuma tested Pickford with a cross shot from the right on the 28th.
Bonello performed a good save on a Phil Foden corner from the left on 37 minutes.
Bonello was tested with a shot from outside the area by Trent Alexander-Arnold. Two minutes later, Alexander-Arnold had a shot from outside the area ending just over the bar.
England finally doubled the score on the 75th minute when off an assist by Bukayo Sako from the left, Harry Kane slotted the ball past Bonello
A minute later, Declan Rice appeared to have scored a third goal for England thanks to a fine curved shot from the left which gave Bonello no chance. However the goal was disallowed for an offside after VAR check.
Seven minutes from time, Teuma reelased Yankam on the right but the latter hit high from inside the area and five minutes later, Alexander-Arnold had a powerful drive blocked by the Malta custodian.
ENGLAND Jordan Pickford, Kieran Trippier, Fikayo Tomori (46’ Bukayo Saka), Conor Gallagher (46’ Kyle Walker), Marc Guehi, Harry Maguire, Phil Foden, Jordan Henderson (61’ Declan Rice), Harry Kane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Marcus Rashford (61’ Cole Palmer).
MALTA Henry Bonello, Ryan Camenzuli, Steve Borg, Matthew Guillaumier (59’ Bjorn Kristensen), Joseph Mbong, Paul Mbong (59’ Jodi Jones), Teddy Teuma, Enrico Pepe, Kemar Reid (79’ Kyrian Nwoko), Yannick Yankam, Jean Borg (79’ Zach Muscat).
Referee: Luis Godinho POR
Assistant Referees: Rui Teixeira, Luis Campos POR
Fourth Official: Ricardo Baixinho POR
VAR Hugo Miguel POR
Assistant VAR Helder Malheiro POR