Late soft goals down Malta
Two late goals downed a well organised Malta side yesterday in Vilnius. It was a harsh result for the Maltese who played a very diligent match and were never in real dander in the first hour of the game.
However Lithuania increased their tempo past the hour as the Maltese lost their concentration and hold of the midfield sector and were subsequently punished.
The two goals suffered were rather soft and could have been avoided with some more concentration. The Maltese were more in the game compared to the difficult 90 minutes at Wembley, but in the end we once again left the field empty handed, still in search of our first points after match day three.
Pietro Ghedin made three changes from Wembley’s initial lineup, with the introduction of Jonathan Caruana, who was suspended against England, Joseph Zerafa, and veteran striker Michael Mifsud. These three played instead of Alex Muscat, Ryan Camilleri and Alfred Effiong.
After barely a minute Wembley’s hero Andrew Hogg made his first save denying Valskis from close range. On nine minutes a good Maltese move on the left flank with Andre Schembri failing to connect to Joseph Zerafa’s low cross.
These were practically the only attempts at goal in the first half, with Hogg again called in action just before the final whistle saving a long range effort from Cernych. Malta played a very diligent match in the first half sharing the possession of the ball with their opponents.
The Maltese were well organised in all departments and played some very good football with a series of short passes that frustrated our opponents.
There were no changes on the resumption with the Maltese still in full control of the proceedings. On the hour Malta had a good opportunity in a fast break when Michael Mifsud passed towards Gareth Sciberras whose effort was deflected to a corner by a Lithuanian defender.
On 69 minutes Andrew Hogg made a great save when he turned into a corner a shot on the turn from Mikuckis. Lithuania increased the pressure as the Maltese lost their composure in midfield and were punished fifteen minutes from time when the Maltese defence failed to clear away the ball following a corner action and Fiodor Cernych headed past Hogg.
Pietro Ghedin made his first change ten minutes from time adding another striker Alfred Effiong for Bjorn Kristensen. But two minutes later it was game over as Jonathan Caruana elbowed Matulevicius with the referee awarding the penalty and showing the red card to Jonathan Caruana who was just making his return from a suspension.
From the penalty spot Nivikovas made no mistake with Andrew Hogg almost saving his shot. The Maltese threw in the towel in the remaining minutes and Lithuania missed two sitters that could have made the Maltese night more miserable.
Lithuania’s opening goal scored by Cernych
Malta’s starting eleven yesterday
Andre Schembri in action yesterday