Malta Football Association
Clinical Swedes overcome Malta in Euro 2020 qualifier
Jun 7, 2019
Posted in:
National Team


07.06.2019 – Friends Arena, Solna, Sweden

MALTA      0
(HT 1-0)

Sweden made no mistake against Malta as they attained a deserved 3-0 win over the visitors in Stockholm.


As expected, Malta’s first away group F match in the Euro 2020 qualifiers proved to be a difficult affair but the lads left the pitch with their heads held high with, at times, some neat combination football which kept the Swedish defence on alert. In fact, Alfred Effiong was very close to equalising just before the break but he was denied by Swedish goalkeeper Robin Olsen. 

Compared with Malta’s last outing against Spain (0-2) at Ta' Qali in March, defender Andrei Agius returned from suspension in the heart of the defence, captaining the Malta side in his 83rd appearance.


In fact, only five players who played against Spain, goalkeeper Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Joseph Mbong, Juan Corbalan and Zach Muscat, were in Malta’s starting line-up as a host of players were out injured.


National coach Ray Farrugia fielded on paper quite an offensive team and started with Luke Montebello, the second cap for the Birkirkara striker, partnering Effiong up front.


Malta also welcomed back winger Luke Gambin of Crawley Town, Jake Grech of Hibernians (his fourth cap) and Rowen Muscat, who had come on in the second half in the 2-0 defeat to Spain.


Sweden took the lead in their very first attack.

An inch-perfect Kristoffer Olsson cross from the right was headed in by Marcus Berg whose effort was parried away by Bonello. From the rebound Robin Quaison placed the ball into the back of the net.


On 10 minutes, an Andrei Agius 25-metre free-kick just sailed over the crossbar as the Maltese team upped their performances as the first half moved on.


In the 24th minute, Berg’s shot from the edge of the box was saved in two attempts by Bonello.

Quaison’s header on 35 minutes from close in sailed over the crossbar with Bonello beaten.

Malta's best chance in the match arrived a minute before the break. Mbong's inviting cross from the left was headed in by Effiong with Roma goalkeeper Robin Olsen blocking his attempt away for a corner.

As expected, the pressure of the hosts on the Maltese rearguard continued in the second half and it took the Swedes not long before doubling the score. In the 50th minute, Berg’s beautiful backheel on the edge of the box was met well by Viktor Claesson who had the easiest of tasks beating Bonello from close in.

Five minutes later, Emil Forsberg could have done better with a shot from just outside the box, but his effort sailed high.

As in the first half, the Maltese tried hard to force something out with some counter-attacks, but without the desired result.

On 67 minutes, just before he was substituted, Berg had another goalscoring opportunity but his shot just missed target.

Two minutes later, from a corner action, central defender Filip Helander’s header over the crossbar. On 73 minutes, substitute Paul Fenech’s 30-meter scorcher just missed target.

In the 81st minute, after a period of more Maltese ball possession, substitute Alexander Isak rounded off an effective Swedish attack, beating Bonello with an angled shot from close range. Two minutes later, Bonello did well to block a fierce shot from Ludwig Augustinsson, annulling another goalscoring opportunity for the hosts.

Malta now face Romania on Monday night at the National Stadium, the fourth group match in the Euro 2020 qualification –kick-off 20.45.

Robin Olsen, Mikael Lustig, Pontus Jansson, Filip Helander, Ludwig Augustinsson, Kristoffer Olsson, Albin Ekdal (Sebastian Larsson 77), Viktor Claesson, Emil Forsberg, Marcus Berg (Alexander Isak 68), Robin Quaison (John Guidetti 84).
Coach: Janne Andersson

Henry Bonello, Steve Borg (Ferdinando Apap 80), Andrei Agius, Zach Muscat, Joseph Mbong, Juan Corbalan, Rowen Muscat, Luke Gambin, Jake Grech (Paul Fenech 64), Luke Montebello (Kyrian Nwoko 71), Alfred Effiong.
Coach: Raymond Farrugia

Referee: Rob Harvey (Rep. Ireland) 

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