Malta Football Association
Harsh penalty dooms Malta in Slovenia
Sep 4, 2021
Posted in:
(c) Domenic Aquilina
(c) Domenic Aquilina

  • (c) Domenic Aquilina
  • (c) Domenic Aquilina
  • (c) Domenic Aquilina
  • (c) Domenic Aquilina
  • (c) Domenic Aquilina


FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifying Round Group H

Stadion Stožice, Ljubljana



(HT 1-0)

Lovrić (pen) 45.

A harsh penalty on the stroke of half-time gave Slovenia the full three points against a brave Maltese side, who were the better team in the second half. The guests certainly deserved a draw but left the pitch frustrated and empty handed, despite displaying intelligent combination football. 

With an eye on the World Cup qualifier against Russia in Moscow this upcoming Tuesday, coach Mangia changed his starting line-up on five places. Zach Muscat, Triston Caruana, Juan Corbalan, Alex Satariano and Shaun Dimech were preferred instead of Steve Borg, Ryan Camenzuli, Steve Pisani, Paul Mbong and Luke Montebello, who all started in the 3-0 win over Cyprus last Wednesday. Goalkeeper Henry Bonello, in his 30th appearance for Malta, was given the captain’s armband. 


The hosts started the game well with some high pressing which left the Maltese with very limited space to build up attacks. It was 18-year-old centre forward Benjamin Šeško who was close opening the score on 14 minutes but his close-range header just missed target. On 23 minutes, a low grounder by Sandi Lovrić was deflected into a corner by Kurt Shaw. 


On the half hour, a Satariano header was turned into a corner after a perfect cross from the right by Cain Attard. From that corner, Shaw’s header sailed inches over the bar. Three minutes later, a powerful 20-meters distance shot by Joseph Mbong, nearly had the better of Jan Oblak, who fumbled the ball through his hands but somehow managed to save the ball, inches before crossing the goal line. On the stroke of half-time, the referee awarded a penalty to Slovenia after Enrico Pepe deemed to have illegally stopped Miha Mevlja in the box during a corner action. Sandi Lovrić made no mistake from the spot to give the hosts a 1-0 lead at the break.


In the second half, Malta saw definitely more of the ball, combining well and creating several goalscoring opportunities. On the hour, in a similar situation as the penalty incident for Slovenia, Muscat was pulled down in the box, but the referee waved to play on. Five minutes later, a goal by substitute Montebello was ruled out for offside. 


In the 71st minute, Cain Attard was perhaps closest to equalising after another fluent Malta attack, but his attempt from close range was blocked in extremis by Jure Balkovec. With Malta dictating play, Slovenia remained dangerous on the counter -attack. In one of these attacks, Slovenia were awarded another penalty after Attard fouled substitute Miha Zajc in the box. Another substitute, Andraž Šporar, took the spot kick but Bonello saved his attempt in style. 


There was little time left to force an equaliser and instead, Malta had to continue with ten players when Pepe pulled out injured. It was a well contested and balanced match, which proved once more that Malta are on the right track with some neat, intelligent and forceful football. Next up is Russia on Tuesday in Moscow. 



Slovenia: Jan Oblak, Petar Stojanović, Jaka Bijol, Miha Mevlja, Jure Balkovec, Adam Gnezda Čerin, Jasmin Kurtić, Jan Mlakar (Miha Zajc 60), Sandi Lovrić (Jon Gorenc Stanković 70), Damjan Bohar (Domen Črnigoj 60), Benjamin Šeško (Andraž Šporar 70).
Coach: Matjaz Kek

Malta: Henry Bonello, Kurt Shaw, Enrico Pepe, Triston Caruana (Steve Pisani 79), Zach Muscat, Cain Attard, Juan Corbalan (Ryan Camenzuli 46), Teddy Teuma, Joseph Mbong (Luke Gambin 73), Shaun Dimech (Paul Mbong 58), Alex Satariano (Luke Montebello 58).
Coach: Devis Mangia

Referee: Andris Treimanis (Latvia)
Yellow cards: Kurtic (S); Pepe, Satariano, Montebello, Muscat and coach Devis Mangia (M)

Official Sponsors
Commercial Partners