Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Ten-man Malta go down fighting in Kosovo defeat
Oct 11, 2018
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UEFA EURO 2020 - EQ
Photos: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
Photos: Domenic Aquilina/MFA

  • Photos: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
  • Photos: Domenic Aquilina/MFA

11/10/2018 – Stadiumi Fadil Vokrri – Pristina

UEFA Nations League – Group D3

KOSOVO     3
MALTA        1
(HT 1-0)

1-0 B.Kololli 30; 1-1 A.Agius 50; 2-1 V.Muriqi 68, 3-1 B.Kololli 81

The away UEFA Nations League Group D3 match against favourites Kosovo turned out to be a very difficult test for Malta, as was to be expected.  Kosovo dominated the first half, going in for half-time 1-0 ahead but Malta hit back after the change of ends, levelling through Andrei AgIus's header during a very positive spell for Ray Farrugia's team. However, Kosovo regained the lead at a packed Fadil Vokrri Stadium and the dismissal of captain Michael Mifsud for two yellow cards ended our hopes of a comeback as the hosts emerged 3-1 winners.


There were a few changes in the Malta starting line-up from the 1-1 draw against Azerbaijan last month.

 

Joseph Zerafa (suspended), Jean-Paul Farrugia and Ryan Camilleri, who was not fully fit for this match, were replaced by Ferdinando Apap, Rowen Muscat and Clayton Failla.

 

Farrugia also gave a debut to Juan Corbalan, of Gżira United, on the left wing.


The first scoring opportunity arrived in the 12th minute when the elusive Edon Zhegorova, of Racing Genk in Belgium, progressed through the middle of the pitch but his shot from just outside the box was palmed away by Andrew Hogg.


The Malta goalkeeper was again called into action in the 28th minute, this time to beat away a long-distance shot from Arber Zeneli.


Barely a minute later, the outstanding Hogg saved an attempt by Rizepor's Vedat Muriqi but in the 30th minute there was not much he could do to prevent Kosovo scoring the opening goal.


It was a brilliantly-worked move from the hosts who boast a very strong squad with all bar one of their players based overseas.


Benjamin Kololli started a move on the left as he supplied a crisp pass inside to Valon Berisha. The Lazio playmaker returned the pass to the advancing Kololli who hit past Hogg.


Five minutes from half-time, Malta had their first attempt at goal with Mifsud unleashing a powerful drive from just outside the box but Kosovo goalkeeper Samir Ujkani saved.


Three minutes later, Zhegrova's shot from the left hit the post.


The Maltese team began the second half in bright fashion, drawing level after six minutes. Andrei Agius, earning his 80th international cap for Malta, rose above the Kosovo defence to head home Clayton Failla's corner from the right, a powerful header giving Ujkani no chance.


It was Agius's fifth goal in the colours of the national team and his third in the last five outings.


The Malta players grew in confidence but Kosovo remained dangerous.


Kosovo came close to re-establishing their lead in the 65th minute when a Zhegrova shot from inside the box hit the post as Hogg got a slight touch to the ball.


Three minutes later Kosovo moved 2-1 up. Another flowing attack from the hosts on the left was finished off in the box by Muriqi.


With 20 minutes remaiming, Malta were reduced to 10 players when Mifsud, playing his 134th match for the national team, earned his second booking for a foul on Berisha in midfield.


Hogg blocked a low shot from Kololli from just outside the box before pushing away Milot Rashica's thunderbolt.


Malta fought to keep the hosts at bay but with 10 players they were facing an uphill struggle.


In the 81st minute Kosovo added a third goal. Rashica did some good work on the left, crossing to Kololli who scored his second of the evening.


In the 90th minute a Failla free-kick sailed over the crossbar.


The Maltese contingent will now travel straight to Baku on Friday morning on a chartered flight ahead of their match against Azerbaijan on Sunday. The latter beat Faroe Islands 3-0 in Torshavn.


Kosovo lead Group D3 with seven points, two more then Azerbaijan. The Faroe Islands have three points and Malta one.


KOSOVO
S.Ujkani, F.Aliti, A.Rrahmani, M.Vojvoda, H.Shala, H.Kryeziu, E.Zhegrova, V.Berisha, (B.Halimi 74’), A.Zeneli, (M.Rashica 77’), B.Kololli, V.Muriqi, (L.Kastrati 83’). Coach: Bernard Challandes


MALTA
A.Hogg, S.Borg, A.Agius, F.Apap, C.Failla, J.Mbong, R.Muscat, (S.Pisani 84’), P.Fenech, (R.Briffa 60’), J.Corbalan, A.Schembri, (A.Effiong 64’), M.Mifsud. Coach: Raymond Farrugia


Referee: Tamas Bognar (Hungary)


Attendance:
13,500 (sold out) 

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