Malta Football Association
Malta U-21s go down to Finland in away qualifier
Oct 10, 2019
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U/21 Qualifiers

UEFA U-21 Championship Qualifiers – Group 8
Veritas Stadium, Turku, Finland – 10/10/2019


MALTA    0

The away qualifier against Finland was, as expected, a difficult test for the Malta Under-21s with the hosts emerging 4-0 winners to maintain their unbeaten start in Group 8 of the 2021 UEFA U-21 Championship qualifying campaign.


Finland, who beat Ukraine 2-0 away before drawing 1-1 with Northern Ireland in their opening qualifiers, underlined their strength with another commanding performance.


From the last qualifier against Ukraine (0-4), Malta Under-21 coach Silvio Vella made two changes. Jamie Zerafa replaced Kurt Shaw, who is part of the senior squad for the upcoming EURO 2020 qualifiers, whereas Gudja United’s Zachary Cassar made his official U-21 debut, coming in for club-mate Aidan Friggieri who is sidelined with injury.


Finland hit the ground running, playing aggressive and direct football. On eight minutes, they came close but Malta Under-21 goalkeeper Andreas Vella made a good save.


The hosts went in front on 24 minutes. Mikael Soisalo put in a cross from the right across the face of goal and Jasin Assehnoun tapped home from close range.


Finland made it 2-0 on 31 minutes with the unmarked Benjamin Kallman, who was in a dubious offside position, heading past Vella. Seven minutes from half-time, Malta fell 3-0 down as goalkeeper Vella diverted the ball into his own net in an attempt to clear a cross from lively winger Soisalo, who plays for Zulte Waregem.


At the start of the second half, Jan Busuttil came on for Cassar as Vella switched to 4-4-2. It was Finland who came close again but Kallman’s long-range drive hit the post.


On 66 minutes, Finland increased their lead when Onni Valakari found himself unmarked to connect with an inch-perfect cross and score from close range as Finland sealed a 4-0 win.


William Jaaskelainen, Aapo Halme (Jonas Hakkinen 56), Joonas Sundman, Juhani Pikkarainen, Kaan Kairinen (Jaakko Oksanen 70), Mikael Soisalo, Benjamin Kallman (Eetu Vertainen 56), Onni Valakari, Lucas Lingman (Saku Ylatupa 70), Miko Virtanen, Jasin Assehnoun (Enoch Banza 81).


Andreas Vella, Jean Borg, Nicholas Pulis, Jamie Zerafa (Shaun Dimech 80), Zachary Brincat (Omar Elouni 87), Myles Beerman (Ayrton Attard 87), Zachary Grech, David Xuereb, Michele Sansone, Gary Camilleri, Zack Cassar (Jan Busuttil 46).


Referee: Robert Jenkins (Wales).

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