Malta Football Association
NEWS:
MALTA LOSE 1-2 TO BULGARIA BUT ONCE AGAIN DESERVED BETTER
Sep 11, 2013
Posted in:
photo credit - Dominic Aquilina
photo credit - Dominic Aquilina

  • photo credit - Dominic Aquilina
  • photo credit - Dominic Aquilina
  • photo credit - Dominic Aquilina
  • photo credit - Dominic Aquilina
  • photo credit - Dominic Aquilina
  • photo credit - Dominic Aquilina
  • photo credit - Dominic Aquilina
  • photo credit - Dominic Aquilina
  • photo credit - Dominic Aquilina
  • photo credit - Dominic Aquilina

Malta lost its second home World Cup Group Qualifier with an identical 1-2 scoreline in less than a week. And for the second time produced a brave and encouraging  performance that kept the local supporters on their feet until the final whistle. But, as was the case against Denmark, they left the National Stadium with nothing to show for their efforts except for the satisfaction of having confirmed the team’s progress.


 

Malta immediately created a goal opportunity  after 70 seconds from the start. A good run by Michael Mifsud edging past the Bulgarian flank ended with the Malta captain’s pass to Edward Herrera, who hit a low cross shot  with the ball rolling across the face of goal.

 

Malta created a second chance a few minutes later when Andrei Agius headed just over the bar from a swerving cross by André Schembri.

 

Bulgaria opened the scoring after 8 minutes from a harmlessly looking cross from Dimitrov  but Justin Haber’s attempt to palm the ball over the bar sent the ball into the back of the net.

 

It took some time for Malta to regroup after suffering yet another soft goal but they reacted when Clayton Failla, stepped up to produce a fantastic free-kick with Bulgaria goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov just managing to palm the ball away with the help of the woodwork.

 

Bulgaria kept the upper hand right until the halfway mark but they were kept at bay, at times with difficulty, by the Maltese rearguard, allowing them only to produce long range efforts through Milanov, Gargarov and Nedelev with Haber producing a fine save on the latter to keep the locals in the game.

 

Schembri stole the limelight with a magnificent move at the re-start and after receiving the ball from Herrera, he dribbled past a number of Bulgarian defenders, raced into the box with his low drive hitting the base of the post. For the second time  in this match Malta had been denied by the woodwork.

 

As in the first half, Bulgaria made the most of their luck as they went up at the other end to increase their lead close to the hour. Milanov darted into the box from the left for his low cross to be cut out by Haber only for Gargorov to blast the ball home from the rebound.

 

With the scoreline reading 2-0 after 60 minutes the game looked over, but Pietro Ghedin’s men clearly have resilience in abundance.

 

This goal was a blow for Malta but they refused to give up. Another opportunity came their way when Herrera stormed forward on the counter but his pass towards Mifsud was deflected by a defender.

 

Mifsud then headed over from Herrera’s free-kick and, on 68 minutes, Schembri dribbled his way through before sending a through-ball to Mifsud whose strike was deflected away for a corner.

 

Malta fans shouted for a penalty when Nikolay Bodurov blocked Schembri’s run  but Romanian referee Alexandru Tudor waved play on.

 

Ghedin made two substitutions to freshen up things, with Ryan Fenech replacing Failla and Terence Vella coming on for Mifsud. The Birkirkara forward left an instant mark on the game as he shielded the ball before slipping a perfect return pass to Herrera who swept into the box before hitting low past Mihaylov to send the home fans in ecstacy.

 

The morale was now back to its topmost. Vella’s fine touches and fearless approach boosted Malta’s attack as the boys in red surged forward. Malta won a free-kick in a good position from outside the box but Fenech’s shot was blocked.

 

Malta’s fightback however fell short from obtaining the second positive result in this group, but the  improvement in the national team’s performances was again in evidence this evening as Malta not only battled hard, they always sought to attack, never giving up even when the Bulgarians applied the pressure.

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