Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Well deserved draw for Malta
Oct 5, 2017
Posted in:
General
WC 2022 QUALIFIERS

In Ghedin’s penultimate match in charge of the national team, the Maltese fought hard but had to be satisfied with a 1-1 draw against Lithuania on Match Day 9 of World Cup Qualifying Group F. The home side were seriously hampered by the absence of four regular players. Ryan Fenech (Balzan) did not play due to a suspension while veteran Valletta striker Michael Mifsud, Bjorn Kristensen (Hibernians) and Jean-Paul Farrugia of Swiss Super League side FC Chiasso were all ruled out due to injuries. Schembri’s injury on the stroke of half time forced the Italian mentor to make another change for the second half as the Malta team captain could not go on.


 


Lithuania lost all their five qualifiers since their win against Malta at home in Vilnius twelve months ago. There were four previous mutual encounters between the two nations. Malta won one, one draw and Lithuania won two. The draw was a fair result as both teams had their chances throughout the match.


The opening 15 minutes were cautious from both sides. The first real attempt on goal came from Arvydad Novikovas who tested Andrew Hogg with a good shot from the right on 17 minutes. On 23 minutes Malta opened the score via a distance shot from Andrei Agius, the second international goal for Malta for the Hibernians defender. Barely one minute later Lithuania striker Deivydas Matulevicius almost equalised but hit the post from an ideal position. For the remaining time until the half time whistle, Lithuania tried to penetrate the Malta defence but the hosts kept the visitors at bay without much difficulty.

A few minutes before half time captain Andre Schembri clashed with Lithuania defender Edvinas Girdvainis, who was cautioned by the referee for dangerous play. Schembri had to be treated for some minutes, continued until half time but had to be replaced by Clayton Failla during the break. Andrei Agius took over the captaincy from Schembri.

The visitors came out of the dressing room more aggressive and adventurous. In the 53rd minute Lithuania equalised. Vykintas Slivka found enough space to shoot from 20 meters which left Hogg without a chance. On the hour mark, Hogg avoided a Lithuania lead by punching a splendid free kick from Novikovas into a corner. On 65 minutes Luke Gambin had a good attempt on goal but his shot from just outside the box hit wide. Seven minutes later a Clayton Failla free-kick was saved in style by Lithuanian goalkeeper Emilijus Zubas.

In the 78th minute, goalkeeper Zubas had to block another attempt by Malta. This time it was an accurate Paul Fenech header from the edge of the box after free-kick from the right.

Both teams went in search for the winner but there was no further goalmouth action to report until the finals whistle.

Malta now play Slovakia in Bratislava on Sunday to round off the group commitments in the World Cup Qualifiers for Russia next year.



Malta: Andrew Hogg, Joseph Zerafa, Andrei Agius, Steve Borg, Ryan Camilleri, Zach Muscat, Paul Fenech, (Cain Attard 92), Luke Gambin, (Clyde Borg 85), Steve Pisani, Andre Schembri, (Clayton Failla 46), Alfred Effiong
Lithuania: Emilijus Zubas, Edvinas Girdvainis, Tomas Mickukis, Vytautas Andriuskevicius, Egidijus Vaitkunas, Mantas Kuklys, Vykintas Slivka, Fiodor Cernych, Nerijus Valskis, (Marius Papsys 46), Arvydas Novikovas, Deivydas Matulevicius, (Lukas Spalvis 80).

Cautions: Kuklys (22’), Girdvainis (42’), Muscat (74’).
Attendance: 3,431

Referee: Zaven Hovhannisyan (Armenia)
 

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