Malta Football Association
Malta pay the price for disappointing start in friendly
Mar 26, 2018
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Gloria Sports Arena, Belek, Turkey



MALTA      0

(HT 3-0)

A disappointing start proved costly for Malta as our national team crashed to a 5-0 defeat to Finland in a friendly at the Gloria Sports Arena in Belek, Turkey on Monday evening.

Three goals inside the opening 27 minutes left Malta with a mountain to climb as Finland made the most of their early chances.


Malta did improve in the second half with coach Tom Saintfiet making four substitutions at half-time but their efforts to claw their way back into the match proved futile despite their rising pressure.


To add insult to injury, Finland struck two late goals to seal a flattering 5-0 victory.


Saintfiet made some changes from the 1-0 defeat to Luxembourg with Zach Muscat out of the equation due to injury. He opted for 4-4-1-1 with Andrè Schembri operating behind striker Jean Paul Farrugia.


Finland were off to a flying start. 


Malta goalkeeper Andrew Hogg effected a point-blank save from Fredrisk Jensen after just nine minutes.


Teemu Pukki opened the scoring after 13 minutes, heading home at the far post after the Maltese defence struggled to deal with Moshtagh Yaghoubi's corner from the left.


Joseph Zerafa, served by Luke Gambin, advanced on the left but his cross-shot was easily blocked by the Finland goalkeeper.


Right-back Kalle Taimi doubled Finland's lead on 23 minutes, driving a low shot into the net after Hogg had repelled Robin Lod's effort.


Pukki scored a third four minutes later, concluding a fine move through the middle with a well-placed shot.


With his team three goals down, Saintfiet brought on Michael Mifsud, Triston Caruana (─Žamrun Spartans), who made his debut for the national team, Roderick Briffa, and Myles Beerman at the start of the second half.


Malta upped their game in the second half as they pressed for a goal to revive their hopes.


Luke Gambin went close to reducing the deficit but his fine shot from outside the box, after a good interception by Caruana, just missed target.


The red-shirted players forced a series of corners but could not find a way past the Finnish defence.


Michael Johnson also made his debut for Malta as he entered the fray in the 72nd minute, replacing Steve Borg.

Against the run of play, Finland added two more goals in the final minutes of the match.


Jensen scoring goal number four on 84 minutes and substitute Pyry Soiri added another with two minutes on the clock.


In added time, a rasping free-kick from Andrei Agius was deflected away for a corner.


Jesse Joronen (Anssi Jaakola 46), Kalle Taimi (Joona Toivio 82), Paulus Arajuuri, Sauli Vaisanen, Jere Uronen, (Juha Pirinen 62), Robin Lod (Pyry Sori 62), Glen Kamara, Thomas Lam, Moshtagh Yaghoubi (Robert Taylor 46), Teemu Pukki, Fredrik Jensen.



Andrew Hogg, Cain Attard, Andrei Agius, Steve Borg (Michael Johnson 72), Jean Borg, Joseph Zerafa (Myles Beerman 46, Steve Pisani (Roderick Briffa 46), Rowen Muscat (Triston Caruana 46), Luke Gambin, Andre’ Schembri (Alfred Effiong 63), Jean Paul Farrugia (Michael Mifsud 46).

Referee: Husseyin Gocek (Turkey)

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