Malta Football Association
Malta U-21 team go down to hosts Ukraine
Sep 10, 2019
Posted in:
U/21 Qualifiers
The Malta U-21 team before the match in Ukraine.
The Malta U-21 team before the match in Ukraine.

UEFA U-21 Qualifying Round – Group 8
Slavutich Arena, Zaporizhia – 10/09/2019


MALTA      0

The Malta Under-21 side endured a difficult night in Zaporizhia as they met a strong Ukraine who emerged 4-0 winners on Tuesday.


The match was decided in the first half as Ukraine, featuring several players from their U-20 World Cup winning squad, scored three goals. Malta improved in the second period, creating some good chances but it was the home team who got their fourth late on.


The Malta Under-21 team, led by coach Silvio Vella, came into this match on the back of a goalless stalemate away to Northern Ireland only five days ago, albeit the trip to Zaporizhia was quite tiring. Vella made two changes in the starting XI with David Xuereb and Jan Tanti replacing Jan Busuttil and Aidan Friggieri respectively.


The game was off to a low-key start with the Maltese controlling their opponents in the initial stages but Ukraine broke the deadlock on 18 minutes. A shortly-taken free-kick by Akhmed Alibekov found Dmytro Topalov who fired a powerful shot into the net from the edge of the box.


This opener stunned the Maltese as three minutes later Ukraine doubled their lead. Nazariy Rusyn latched on to a low cross from the left before guiding the ball home.


Just over half an hour on the clock and Ukraine almost scored a third but Malta U-21 goalkeeper Andreas Vella was alert to turn Shaparenko’s curling shot away for a corner.


The third goal came on 41 minutes when a fast move ended with the ball at the feet of play-maker Bogdan Lednev who scored with a low shot.


The second half started with a first substitution for Malta with Jamie Zerafa replacing Valletta defender Nicholas Pulis who was unwell in the lead-up to the match. Kurt Shaw dropped into to a deeper position, helping captain Jean Borg at the back.


Four minutes into the second half, Malta came close to narrowing the deficit. A corner led to a goalmouth scramble but Ukraine cleared the danger.


A good move for Malta resulted in substitute Friggieri winning a good ball before serving Zachary Brincat but the latter’s effort was turned away for a corner.


Ukraine scored their fourth with seven minutes left. Kozhushko found the space to deliver a pin-point pass to the unmarked Giorgi Tsitaishvili who darted into the box before placing the ball into the far corner.


The Malta Under-21 team thus return from their first two away qualifiers with a point in the bag. Their next qualifier is against Finland in Turku on October 10.


Oleh Bilyk, Yevhen Cheberko, Dmytro Topalov (Giorgi Tsitaishvili 52), Maksym Chekh, Akhmed Alibekov (Vladislav Babolgo 52), Bogdan Milovanov, Bogdan Lednev (Mykhailo Mudryk 77), Vladyslav Dubinchak, Mykola Shaparenko (Yevheni Smirniy 53), Oleksii Bykov, Nazarii Rusyn (Oleh Kozhushko 68).



Andreas Vella, Zachary Grech, Gary Camilleri, Kurt Shaw, Nicholas Pulis (Jamie Zerafa 46), Jean Borg, Jan Tanti (Aidan Friggieri 59), David Xuereb, Zachary Brincat (Omar Elouni 89), Michele Sansone, Myles Beerman (Jan Busuttil 77). 


Referee: Juxhin Xhaja (Albania).

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