Sil­vio Vella’s boys set new records as Malta fin­ishes a re­spectable fourth with 11 points

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

A sec­ond con­sec­u­tive win and the third from 10 matches in this qual­i­fy­ing Group One earned Malta a very re­spect­ful fourth place with a record 11 points.

Hav­ing es­tab­lished two records last Fri­day after the vic­tory over Latvia, Sil­vio Vella and his boys yes­ter­day set other records – reg­is­ter­ing three wins and two draws from the 10 matches played to fin­ish on 11 points in the high­est place ever – fourth in a qual­i­fy­ing group.

It was a big sat­is­fac­tion for coach Sil­vio Vella and his boys who have made Malta very proud of their achieve­ments. May this au­gur well for the fu­ture of Mal­tese foot­ball.

Vella had to do with­out Val­letta’s Llewe­lyn Cre­mona – ruled out through sus­pen­sion. His place was taken by Jo­han Bezzina of Hiber­ni­ans who missed last week’s 1-0 win against Latvia through in­jury.

Malta en­joyed ter­ri­to­rial su­pe­ri­or­ity over their op­po­nents, but the Moldovan de­fence was well or­gan­ised and our boys rarely, if ever, had the op­por­tu­nity to test goalie Mitu in goal, un­til of course the two late first half goals - that splen­did rising shot from Jean Borg which gave Malta a de­served lead five min­utes be­fore the in­ter­val whis­tle and then Ca­men­zuli’s bomb­shell from a free­kick in added time.

Mid­field was com­pletely in the hands of the Mal­tese with a splen­did Jo­han Bezzina, and the non-stop Guil­lau­mier, Ca­men­zuli and Grech tak­ing con­trol from the very first minute.

At the back, while goalie Jur­gen Borg was never re­ally tested, Malta was well served by At­tard, Jean Borg, Zer­afa and Ma­gri – they were well on top of their op­pos­ing strik­ers.

Up front, both Mbong and De­gabriele had their good mo­ments as well and pro­vided the op­pos­ing de­fence with some anx­ious mo­ments.

It was in the sec­ond half that the Moldovans re­tal­i­ated, scor­ing twice to level mat­ters, after hav­ing been awarded two penal­ties.

But the boys in red showed great char­ac­ter in fight­ing back re­gain the lead al­most im­me­di­ately through Mbong and then held on ad­mirably till the end to thwart their op­po­nents thus earn­ing an­other three points.

Malta cre­ated the first op­por­tu­nity when from a cor­ner, a Ryan Ca­men­zuli cross was headed over the bar by Sa­muel Ma­gri.

Malta en­joyed a lot more pos­ses­sion, but rarely found the open­ings, although in the 29th minute, a fine run by Mbong ended with his pass go­ing to Jake Grech whose cross-shot un­for­tu­nately found no tak­ers.

A minute later, it was cap­tain Ryan Ca­men­zuli who missed the best scor­ing chance as he fired wildly out from an ideal po­si­tion.

At the other end, on the 33rd minute, Cain At­tard missed his clear­ance and Spataru could shoot at goal, but his shot was de­flected to an abortive cor­ner.

Malta took the lead on the 40th minute with a fine goal. He took the ball from a clear­ance by the Moldovan de­fence and fired home spec­tac­u­larly in the top cor­ner from well out­side the area.

The score be­came 2-0 in added time when Ryan Ca­men­zuli fired home a free­kick from the an­gle to give his side a healthy cush­ion.

Moldova re­duced the ar­rears in the 51st minute when they were awarded a penalty for a foul by Ma­gri on Graur. From the spot­kick, Jur­gen Borg par­tially saved Da­m­as­can’s ef­fort, but Dan Taras was on hand to push the ball into the net.

En­cour­aged by this goal, Moldova started push­ing for­ward more fre­quently and earned a sec­ond penalty in the 65th minute when Ca­men­zuli was ad­judged to have han­dled a header which fin­ished on the cross­bar. From the spot­kick, sub­sti­tute Sv­inarenco made no mis­take to make it 2-2.

I thought the Mal­tese would suf­fer the con­se­quences hav­ing squan­dered a 2-0 half time lead, but two min­utes later, Vella’s boys re­gained the lead – an­other splen­did goal this time from Joseph Mbong whose fine rising shot from an an­gle hit the up­right be­fore fin­ish­ing at the back of the net.

Ilie Da­m­as­can thought he had equalised again for Moldova on the 79th minute when he scored from in front of Borg, but he was rightly ruled off­side.

Four min­utes from the end, Malta se­ri­ously risked suf­fer­ing the equaliser when after a ver­i­ta­ble melee in the small box, the ball was headed back by a de­fender against the post and a shot by a Moldovan player was cleared off the line by the Mal­tese de­fence.

At the fi­nal whis­tle, the joy of the Mal­tese – play­ers, coaches, of­fi­cials and fans – knew no bounds. Our boys cer­tainly de­served the big round of ap­plause amidst the chant­ing of “Malta, Malta”. Czech Rep. Bel­gium Mon­tene­gro Malta Latvia Moldova


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Malta play­ers cel­e­brate their vic­tory over Moldova Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Malta's Jean Borg pow­ers home Malta's first goal against Moldova. - Photo Domenic Aquilina

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