Malta Football Association
Estonia beat Malta in Friendly at Ta' Qali
Nov 12, 2017
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(HT 0-2)

Malta lost 0-3 to Estonia at the National Stadium in an official international friendly, the last match for the Maltese National team in 2017. It was the first match for new Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet, who introduced a more attacking style of play. The locals had certainly some trouble to adapt to this style in the first half, but played a very decent second half, giving away nothing and creating some good chances. It is obvious however, that the team needs more time to deal with the mindset of the new coach.

Estonia took the lead with the first attack of the game. After a good move from the right, Rauno Sappinen ran off centre back Clifford Gatt-Baldacchino who beat Malta goalkeeper Henry Bonello with a low drive. An unexpected cold shower for the Maltese.

On 11 minutes, Ryan Fenech’s shot from 20 meters sailed high. More misery for Malta in the 13th minute when referee Genc Nuza from Kosova ordered a soft penalty for Estonia with Sergei Mosnikov beating Bonello from the spot. In the 16th minute, Malta replied with a dangerous long-distance shot of Rowen Muscat, who just missed target. Bonello saved a free kick of Moskinov in style from the top left corner on 22 minutes.

The best chance for Malta in the first half arrived on 33 minutes when after a good attack started by Luke Gambin, a Michael Mifsud cross, playing his 127th cap, was met by Jean Paul Farrugia which shot was deflected into a corner by Estonia goalkeeper Marko Meerits.

However, Estonia dictated play in the first half, showing the better ideas. Centre back Madis Vihmann’s header from a corner on 42 minutes was well saved by Bonello while one minute later Sergei Zenjov was close to the 0-3 but he just could not meet an Artur Pikk cross from the left. On 44 minutes there was a fine Malta attack, set up by Rowen Muscat, who passed towards Luke Gambin. The nippy winger’s drive, one of the best Maltese in the first half, was saved into a corner by Meerits.

Malta came more into the match during the first twenty minutes of the second half, a period where both teams made some substitutions, interrupting rhythm on a few occasions. In defence things were better under control, also thanks to the inclusion of Joseph Zerafa as right back. Michael Mifsud and Luke Gambin kept the Estonian rear guard busy with some forging runs.

In the 70th minute, Kyrian Nwoko, making his debut for the national team, had a good chance to reduce the gap but his effort sailed over the bar after some good work on the right of Michael Mifsud. Not much later, Saintfiet introduced Alfred Effiong for Ryan Fenech, to play alongside Nwoko in attack, in search for goals. The Balzan striker had a good attempt on 76 minutes but Meerits saved without difficulty. Seconds late, a Taijo Teniste effort inside the box was deflected by Zerafa but Bonello saved.

In the 90th minute, against the run of play, substitute Henri Anier sealed the issue with a goal from close angle after some good work on the left by Brent Lepistu.

A somewhat flattened win by the visitors, while the hosts showed some neat touches throughout the match, which certainly gives hope for the future.

Malta: Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Zach Muscat, (Joseph Zerafa 46), Ryan Fenech, (Alfred Effiong 70), Rowen Muscat, (Paul Fenech 65), Luke Gambin, (Clayton Failla 78), Andre Schembri, (Steve Pisani 58), Michael Mifsud, Jean Paul Farrugia, (Kyrian Nwoko 58).
Estonia: Marko Meerits, Nikita Baranov, (Joonas Tamm 58), Madis Vihmann, Karol Mets, Ilja Antonov, (Mattias Kait 55) Artur Pikk, Artjom Dmitrijev, Sergei Mosnikov, (Ats Purje 65), Sergei Zenjov, (Henri Anier 78), Karl Mool, (Taijo Teniste 65), Rauno Sappinen, (Brent Lepistu 82).

Referee: Genc Nuza (Kosovo)

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