Jake Grech stun­ner gives Malta a mer­ited win

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Malta reg­is­tered a dou­ble over Latvia yes­ter­day as the lo­cal boys scored a mer­ited 1-0 win. Malta had won the match in Latvia 2-1 last year.

It was Ham­run young­ster Jake Grech who scored a beauty at the start of the sec­ond half which proved to be enough for the lo­cal boys to take all the three points.

In the process, Sil­vio Vella’s side es­tab­lished a record in the Un­der 21 cat­e­gory hav­ing col­lected eight points so far - the most num­ber of points in a qual­i­fy­ing group.

The re­sults, cou­pled with those of the Group matches played yes­ter­day, en­abled Malta to move up to fourth place on eight points from nine matches.

Malta’s re­main­ing match is that against Moldova next Tues­day, also at the Hibs Ground. Moldova yes­ter­day lost 4-1 to the Czech Repub­lic who are the Group win­ners.

In the first half, play was bal­anced but it was Malta through Grech, Mbong and Ca­men­zuli who cre­ated the best scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, though these were few and far be­tween. Oth­er­wise the two sets of de­fences were on top of the re­spec­tive front lines so much so that nei­ther goal­keeper was se­ri­ously tested.

In the sec­ond half Malta came out strongly to take the lead with a splen­did goal.

From then on, Latvia went on the of­fen­sive in search of an equaliser, but it was the Mal­tese who went close to scor­ing on at least three other oc­ca­sions.

The Lat­vians tried hard, but the Mal­tese were well or­gan­ised at the back and never al­lowed their op­po­nents a chance to have a pot at goal.

Malta al­most opened the scor­ing in the 7th minute. From a Jake Grech cross, Ryan Ca­men­zuli, un­marked in front of goal, hit over the bar with his knee.

Latvia’s re­ply ar­rived in the 15th minute when from a Tin­der­bergs cross, it was Jurkovskis who headed over the bar.

In the 25th minute, Malta risked a lot when in a tackle in our area, Jean Borg seemed to have pushed Svarups, but no one protested and the ref­eree, close to the ac­tion, waved play on.

Mo­ments later, from a Jurkovskis cross, it was Daniel Zer­afa who cleared to corner be­fore Svarups could con­clude at goal.

In the 33rd minute, Ca­men­zuli set De­gabriele beau­ti­fully in the area, but goalie Zom­mers rushed out of goal to thwart the Malta striker.

A minute later, Malta cre­ated the best op­por­tu­nity when Mbong found Ca­men­zuli who con­trolled the ball on the edge of the area, only to see his ef­fort go­ing just wide of the tar­get.

Malta started the sec­ond half on a very pos­i­tive note tak­ing the lead with an ex­cel­lent goal. It was Joseph Mbong who set Jake Grech with a fine back heel and the lat­ter fired home a ris­ing shot from the edge of the area, giv­ing Zom­mers no chance.

And soon af­ter it was al­most 2-0 as De­gabriele worked a good ball in the area and passed the ball low to Grech who trans­ferred it to Cre­mona, but the lat­ter’s ef­fort was just over the post.

On the hour, in a swift counter-at­tack, it was again Mbong – Malta’s best player – who crossed into the area, but De­gabriele’s ef­fort went wide.

Three min­utes later, Cre­mona set De­gabriele in the area, but when on the point of shoot­ing at goal, he saw Cer­nomordijs clear­ing in ex­tremis.

In the 83rd minute, Malta missed a good chance to in­crease their lead when off a Ca­men­zuli free­kick, it was Cre­mona who missed the flight of the ball in front of goal.

In added time, Latvia came clos­est to get­ting an equaliser when Jur­gen Borg fum­bled the ball in a cross, but a shot from Flak­sis was cleared from near the goalline by Sa­muel Ma­gri.

The Mal­tese squad cel­e­brate their win against Latvia.

Malta's goalscorer Jake Grech (right) cel­e­brates scor­ing with team mate Matthew Guil­lau­mier (left)

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