Malta, Slovenia share four goals in 2-2 draw

Malta and Slovenia shared four goals in a 2-2 draw in a friendly match at the National Stadium on Thursday.

A match which forms part of Michele Marcolini’s side’s preparation ahead of the UEFA Nations League commitments starting in September where Malta will be facing Moldova and Andorra.

As expected, it was no easy game considering that Slovenia are one of the finalists of the EURO 2024 after finishing on level points with Denmark but having to settle for second place due to the direct encounters. The visitors were a better side in the early stages but a defensive blunder enabled them to forge ahead. Malta hit back with two quick-fire goals early in the second half but Slovenia notched the equaliser late in the game.

With Ryan Camenzuli, Teddy Teuma and Jodi Jones all missing from the squad, Marcolini opted to start with Henry Bonello in goal, Steve Borg, Zach Muscat and Jean Borg at the back, Juan Corbalan and Joseph Mbong on the flanks, Steve Pisani, Matthew Guillaumier and Yannick Yankam in midfield with Paul Mbong and Luke Montebello up front.

 Photos courtesy of domenic aquilina / Malta FA

The locals had the first attempt at goal on the 8th minute when off a cross by Matthew Guillaumier, Paul Mbong tested Jan Oblak with a close-range header. Slovenia replied with a Benjamin Šeško conclusion from inside the area which was parried by Bonello. A cross shot from the left by Jura Balkovec hit the crossbar on the 17th. Four minutes later, a low conclusion by Andrew Sporar, off an Adam Cerin corner, was blocked into another corner. 

Slovenia took the lead on the 28th minute when Andrew Sporar took full advantage of an erratic clearance by Henry Bonello and placed the ball in the bottom right corner.

Malta replied with a good move by Joseph Mbong who concluded a good run on the left with a shot hitting the side netting on the 39th.

The locals threatened nine minutes in the second half when Matthew Guillaumier intercepted a pass by a Slovenian defender and served Paul Mbong who exchanged the ball with Luke Montebello before trying his luck with a goal-bound shot which was deflected by Vanja Drkusic into a corner.

From the resulting corner, Steve Pisani served Joseph Mbong whose assist for Matthew Guillaumier saw the former Hamrun midfielder planting the ball in the bottom left corner.

Three minutes later, Malta went 2-1 ahead thanks to a great freekick by Steve Pisani which gave goalkeeper Vid Belec no chance with the ball ending in the top right corner. 

Slovenia replied with a Benjamin Šeško effort from inside the area which was blocked by Bonello on 64 minutes. 

Nine minutes from time, Slovenia levelled matters courtesy of Benjamin Šeško whose powerful shot from just outside the area beat goalkeeper Bonello.

Malta will be in action once again on Tuesday, facing Belarus in another friendly match.

MALTA Henry Bonello, Steve Borg (46’ Enrico Pepe), Matthew Gullaumier, Joseph Mbong, Steve Pisani (76’ Nikolai Muscat), Paul Mbong (81’ Nevin Portelli), Luke Montebello (67’ Kemar Reid), Juan Corbalan (81’ Carlo Zammit Lonardelli), Yannick Yankam, Jean Borg, Zach Muscat.

SLOVENIA Jan Oblak (46’ Vid Belec), Jurę Balkovec, Jaka Bijol (46’ Miha Blazic), Andraz Sporar, Benjamin Sisko, Jasmin Kurtic (77’ Jon Stankovic), Jan Mlakar (46’ Benjamin Verbic), Tomi Horvat, Petar Stojanovic, Vanja Drkusic (81’ David Brakalo), Adam Cerin (62’ Timi Elsnik).

Referee: Sandi Putros (DEN)
Assistant Referees: Lars Hummelgaard, Ole Kronlykke (DEN)
Fourth Official: Darryl Agius
Attendance: 1,652