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