Malta Football Association
Resilient Malta beaten by classy Spain in Euro qualifier
Mar 26, 2019
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National Team

EURO 2020 

26/03/2019 – National Stadium, Ta’ Qali

SPAIN    2
(HT 0-1)

As expected, Spain proved too strong for Malta at a packed National Stadium but the hosts produced a resilient performance throughout. The visitors dominated for long stretches but the Maltese were very compact tactically with their gallant effort also being acknowledged by the appreciative home crowd. Alvaro Morata was the hero for Spain with two well-taken goals.

Malta coach Ray Farrugia made three changes from the 2-1 victory over Faroe Islands.


John Mintoff, Joseph Zerafa and Zach Muscat replaced Michael Mifsud, Rowen Muscat and the suspended Andrei Agius.


Spain coach Luis Enrique, who was not on the bench after flying back to Spain for family reasons, made no fewer than eight changes from their 2-1 victory against Norway last Saturday.


The likes of Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea and Barcelona duo Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets were rested but Spain still fielded a strong team replete with top-class players, including captain Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid. Assistant coach Robert Moreno led the team from the sidelines.

The first opportunity of the match came Spain's way after a quiet opening.


On 16 minutes, a shot by Saul Niguez from the distance just missed target. A minute later, the same player could have scored the opener for the visitors after receiving a pass from Sergi Roberto but his shot from the edge of the box sailed over the crossbar.


Spain were enjoying more possession but Malta gave a good account of themselves, showing tactical discipline and always trying to play constructive football despite their opponents' supremacy.


A Morata header, following a cross from the right, was saved by Henry Bonello without much ado on the half-hour mark. But in their next attack, it was Morata who put the visitors 1-0 up after receiving a through-ball in the centre. The Atletico Madrid forward managed to evade his marker and scored with a low shot which had the better of Bonello.


Five minutes before the break, a free-kick by Marco Asensio sailed over the crossbar.

In the second half, on 57 minutes, an angled Morata header from a cross by Sergi Roberto from the right just missed the target.


The Maltese tried hard to create counter-attacks but were neutralised quickly by the Spanish midfield.


On the hour, a Marco Asensio shot from close range was saved by Bonello. Two minutes later Bonello again distinguished himself with a fine save, now blocking a Marco Asensio attempt with Niguez's rebound sailing over the bar.


On 73 minutes, Spain sealed their win. Morata was in the right place to meet a wonderful cross from the right from substitute Jesus Navas with a header from close range.


A Sergio Ramos thunderbolt from 25 metres was blocked by Bonello on 77 minutes.


A minute later, man-of-the-match Morata made way Rodrigo.


Michael Mifsud, who had come on as a substitute for John Mintoff earlier on, had a shot off target in the dying minutes of the match, while on the other side, Bonello stopped an effort from Asensio from just outside the box in style.


In the same qualifying group, Sweden and Norway shared the spoils in a spectacular 3-3 draw, while Romania beat the Faroe Islands 4-1 in Bucharest thanks to a brace by Claudiu Keseru.


Spain top the group with maximum points fromtwo games, followed by Sweden with four points, Romania and Malta with three and Norway with one. The Faroe Islands are pointless.



Henry Bonello, Joseph Zerafa, Jonathan Caruana (Karl Micallef 85), Steve Borg, Zach Muscat, Joseph Mbong (Rowen Muscat 65), Matthew Guillaumier, Paul Fenech, Juan Corbalan, John Mintoff (Michael Mifsud 69), Kyrian Nwoko.

Coach: Ray Farrugia.



Kepa Arrizabalaga, Jose Gaya, Mario Hermosa, Sergio Ramos, Sergi Roberto, Saul Niguez (Jesus Navas 65), Rodri Hernandez, Sergio Canales, Juan Bernat (Iker Munain 56), Alvaro Morata (Rodrigo Moreno 78), Marco Asensio.

Coach: Roberto Moreno Gonzalez.

Referee: Andrew Dallas (Scotland)


Attendance: 16,542


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