Malta Football Association
Vibrant Malta earn deserved point in Slovakia
Mar 27, 2021
Posted in:
(c) Mark Zammit Cordina
(c) Mark Zammit Cordina

  • (c) Mark Zammit Cordina
  • (c) Mark Zammit Cordina
  • (c) Mark Zammit Cordina
  • (c) Mark Zammit Cordina
  • (c) Mark Zammit Cordina





Štadión Antona Malatinského, Trnava


MALTA       2

(HT 0-2)

Gambin 16, Satariano 20, Strelec 49, Škriniar 53.

Malta earned a well-deserved and prestigious point away from home against Slovakia, ranked 34 on the FIFA ranking and one of the participants at this summer Euro 2020, as their World Cup European Qualifier ended 2-2 in Trnava on Saturday.


It was another convincing performance from Malta, led by coach Devis Mangia, as they established a 2-0 lead at half-time thanks to a superb opener by Luke Gambin and a powerful header by Alex Satariano four minutes later. In the second half, the inevitable pressure from the Slovaks resulted in two quick goals, wiping out Malta’s advantage, but Mangia's men kept their composure to secure a point. Indeed, the Maltese played another fearless match, confident on the ball and creating several goalscoring opportunities throughout the match. 

From the Russia qualifier last Wednesday, Malta coach Devis Mangia made four changes. In defence, Enrico Pepe was preferred to Andrei Agius, Gambin started instead of Kristensen and up front, Paul Mbong and Satariano, both 19, replaced Montebello and Degabriele.

Malta enjoyed a great first half, playing clever football and showing sound tactical organisation. Slovakia had its first goal attempt in the ninth minute when, from a corner, Milan Škriniar headed towards Michal Ďuriš who missed the target from an ideal position.

Malta took a deserved lead on 16 minutes thanks to a terrific goal by Luke Gambin who, after receiving a Joseph Mbong pass, curled the ball into the top corner from about 20 metres distance. Four minutes later, Malta doubled their advantage. After another precise build-up, Ryan Camenzuli crossed from the left wing to the unmarked Alex Satariano who brilliantly headed the ball passed Kuciak.

Slovakia were taken by surprise, struggling to retain possession amid the constant pressing of the Maltese and created very little danger in front of Bonello’s goal during the remainder of the opening half. The only time they came close was on 27 minutes when Ďuriš beat the offsite trap but hit wide. On the stroke of half-time, Škriniar blocked a Satariano shot from the edge of the box.

After the break, Slovakia went all out in search of a goal to get back into the game. In the 49th minute they reduced the deficit thanks to substitute Dávid Strelec, who beat Bonello from close range. Four minutes later, the hosts equalised thanks to captain Škriniar, who headed the ball home after a corner action.

On 55 minutes, Malta went close to regaining the lead thanks to a Satariano header from a Matthew Guillaumier free-kick. On the hour, Róbert Boženík’s close-range attempt was cleared off the line by Teddy Teuma.


Malta continued to create danger on counter-attacks and on 76 minutes, Slovakian goalkeeper Kuciak blocked an attempt by substitute Jake Grech, after another fluent attack by the visitors. Moments later, Teuma managed to win the ball in midfield, and progressed towards the box before passing to substitute Kyrian Nwoko whose attempt was again blocked by Kuciak.

Close to the final whistle, Slovakia pressed hard for a winner but the Maltese rearguard stood firm, giving away very little space. In the end, the draw was a fair result. A very positive result and display by a vibrant Malta side.

Earlier on Saturday, in the same qualifying group, Russia recorded their second win, beating Slovenia 2-1, while Croatia beat Cyprus 1-0.

Dušan Kuciak, Martin Koscelník, Martin Valjent, Milan Škriniar, Dávid Hancko (,Jakub Holúbek 39), Ján Greguš, Patrick Hrošovský (Ivan Schranz 82), Juraj Kucka (Dávid Strelec 46), Tomáš Suslov (Albert Rusnák 72) Róbert Mak, Michal Ďuriš (Róbert Boženík 46).

Henry Bonello, Kurt Shaw, Steve Borg, Enrico Pepe, Ryan Camenzuli, Joseph Mbong, Matthew Guillaumier, Teddy Teuma (Bjorn Kristensen 91), Luke Gambin (Jake Grech 68), Paul Mbong (Kyrian Nwoko 68), Alex Satariano (Steve Pisani 79).

Yellow cards
Ďuriš, Koscelník (S), Camenzuli, Bonello (M).

Harald Lechner (Austria).

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