Malta Football Association
Vibrant Malta make Romania sweat in away Euro qualifier
Sep 8, 2019
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PHOTOS: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
PHOTOS: Domenic Aquilina/MFA

  • PHOTOS: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
  • PHOTOS: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
  • PHOTOS: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
  • PHOTOS: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
  • PHOTOS: Domenic Aquilina/MFA

08.09.2019 – UEFA EURO 2020 – Qualifying Round Group F

Stadionul Ilie Oană – Ploiesti, Romania


Puscas 47

MALTA         0

(HT 0-0)


Malta produced a vibrant performance on Sunday evening in Ploiesti, giving Romania a stern challenge with the hosts prevailing 1-0 thanks to George Puscas's header in the opening minutes of the second half. Led by coach Ray Farrugia, the Malta players had their fair share of possession in this EURO 2020 Group F qualifier and always tried to venture forward with purpose, especially in the last 15 minutes when the red-shirted players pressed for an equaliser. 

Malta had the goal in the net in the closing stages but Jean Paul Farrugia's effort was disallowed for off-side three minutes from the end. The final whistle came with Romania holding on to Puscas's goal but Malta's brilliant effort was appreciated by the few Maltese fans present in Ploiesti as well as the home supporters who applauded the team off the pitch.


It was the second ever meeting between the two nations at senior level with Romania winning 4-0 at the National Stadum in June.


Coach Cosmin Contra opted to start with two 23-year-old defenders, Adrian Rus and Florin Stefan, while in midfield, Mihai Bordeianu, of Romanian champions CFR Cluj, also earned his first international cap.

Luke Gambin was back in the starting line-up for Malta while up front, Farrugia was also handed a start. Defender Zach Muscat was declared fit to start the game after recovering from the injury suffered in the early stages of the Norway match.

As expected, the hosts tried to attack from the outset. Malta goalkeeper Henry Bonello was called into action for the first time in the 10th minute, blocking Florin Andone's drive from the edge of the box. A minute later, Romania’s Razvan Marin thought he had put Romania 1-0 up but was flagged offside. Two minutes after that, Bonello had to intervene again to close down Andone. On 27 minutes, Gheorghe Puscas headed marginally wide after meeting Bordeianu's cross.


Malta grew in composure as the first half progressed, coming close to punishing a defensive error by Romania. Juan Corbolan picked up a loose ball, combining well with Farrugia, but the former's effort, from close range, was turned away for a corner by Romanian goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.

Farrugia had a great chance to put Malta ahead a minute later, shaking off his direct marker from a set-piece action but his effort from close in sailed over the crossbar.

Until the half-time whistle, Malta had their fair share of possession, keeping the hosts at bay for long stretches. On the stroke of half-time, a shot by Bordeianu from the edge of the box just missed the target.

Romania scored what turned out to be the winning goal soon after the restart. A corner from Ianis Hagi was headed by Puscas who looked to have fouled Malta captain Andrei Agius as he jumped to head home.

On 65 minutes, a Gambin shot from the distance was turned away a corner with difficulty by Tatarusanu. Farrugia’s shot from just outside the box in the 73rd minute was also saved by the Romanian custodian.

Two minutes later, an angled shot by substitute Nicolae Stanciu from outside the box just missed target.


In the dying stages, Malta threw caution to the wind in search of an equaliser wih Agius also moving upfield to boost the team's attacking power.

With three minutes left to play, Farrugia scored from close range after a pass by substitute Alfred Effiong but the Sliema Wanderers forward was in an offside position.


Ciprian Tatarusanu, Adrian Rus, Vlad Chiriches, Florin Stefan, Alexandru Chipciu, Alexandru Cicaldau, Razvan Marin, (Nicolae Stanciu 59), Ianis Hagi (Gheorghe Grozav 72), Mihai Bordeianu, Florin Andone, George Puscas (Claudiu Keseru 76).

Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius, Zach Muscat, Juan Corbalan, Joseph Mbong, Rowen Muscat, Dunstan Vella (Jake Grech 86), Luke Gambin (Joseph Zerafa 82), Jean Paul Farrugia, Kyrian Nwoko (Alfred Effiong 72)

Referee: Duje Strukan (Croatia) 

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