National Teams

Prestigious victory over Israel after positive Maltese performance

Published: 27-09-2022 23:12

National Stadium, Ta’ Qali

(HT 0-1)

0-1 Natcho (pen) 31’, 1-1 Satariano 84', 2-1 Apap 86'

Two late goals gave Malta a priceless victory over Israel today, a deserved win for the hosts who created the better chances on the night. A prestigious result, the first ever win over Israel in history, against tough opposition as the hosts are ranked 76th on the latest FIFA ranking. With a bit of more luck, the win could have been larger, looking at the chances created, most of them after some excellent team-play.

The team of coach Davide Mazzotta welcomed back Bjorn Kristensen on midfield, nine months after his last match for Malta, a World Cup qualifier against Slovakia in November last year. There was also a place in the starting eleven for Floriana playmaker Jan Busuttil, while Steve Borg, Jurgen Degabriele and Shaun Dimech were also named in the line-up after coming on as substitutions against Estonia last Friday.

In the first half, Malta shared the exchanges with the visitors and created several goalscoring opportunities, hitting the woodwork once apart from a number of other chances which should have resulted into a goal or two. After a quiet opening, on 21 minutes, Henry Bonello was called into action for the first time, turning an attempt from Omri Altman into a corner. Malta pressed the Israelis early in their own half, which forced the visitors to make mistakes in their built-up. On 28 minutes, the hosts created a wonderful attack with Jean Borg releasing Ryan Camenzuli on the left, passing to Shaun Dimech who kicked against the post with the ball ending up into a corner via the back of Feyenoord goalkeeper Ofir Marciano.

In the attack on the other side that followed, Israel were awarded a dubious penalty when Steve Borg allegedly brought down Denny Gropper in the box, a harsh decision by the referee. Captain Bibras Natcho made no mistake from the spot to break the deadlock in favour if the Israelis. Straight from kick-off, Jurgen Degabriele had a golden opportunity to restore equilibrium after receiving from Camenzuli but the Hibernians forward was too hesitant with the Israeli defence clearing the danger. On 42 minutes, Dimech was sent away on the left wing by Camenzuli but was denied by Raz Shlomo who blocked his effort in time. In stoppage time of the first half, Dimech’s spectacular overhead kick, from a precise Busutill cross, was again blocked by the Israeli rear-guard.

Five minutes into the second half, substitute Jodi Jones missed an opportunity to equalise with an accurate shot from inside the box, straight at substitute goalkeeper Yoav Gerafi. Malta kept on creating the best chances and, after a Guillaumier attempt sailed high, Dimech was sent through by Jones on 56 minutes but it was again Shlomo who cleared the danger. Just after the hour, Joseph Mbong’s shot from the edge of the area was blocked by Gerafi. On 79 minutes, a Satariano header was cleared with difficulty by the Israeli goalkeeper after a free-kick action and two minutes later, after another wonderful built-up, Gerafi blocked a close-range Camenzuli attempt.

Finally, with six minutes regular time left on the clock, Malta equalised. The attack started with Luke Montebello on the left wing, who sent Jones away, passing intelligently to the unmarked Alex Satariano who tapped in from close-range. Two minutes later, Malta got what it deserved when another substitute, Ferdinando Apap, headed the ball behind Grafi from an excellent Teddy Teuma corner.

A fantastic result for Malta after a turbulent day for all the wrong reasons. A big compliment however to the players, who responded well with a positive performance and showed that the hard work done is bearing fruit.

Henry Bonello, Jean Borg (Luke Montebello 78), Steve Borg (Ferdinando Apap 60), Enrico Pepe, Ryan Camenzuli, Joseph Mbong, Bjorn Kristensen (Teddy Teuma 60), Matthew Guillaumier, Jan Busuttil (Jodi Jones 46), Shaun Dimech (Alex Satariano 71), Jurgen Degabriele (James Brown 46).
Coach: Davide Mazzotta

Ofir Marciano (Yoav Gerafi 46), Denny Gropper, Raz Shlomo, Maron Ghantus (Guy Badash 74), Rotem Hatuel, Goni Naor, Or Dadia (Eli Dasa 57), Bibras Natcho (Shai Elias 66), Shon Weissman (Guy Melamed 57), Tai Baribo (Itamar Shrivo 57), Omri Altman
Coach: Alon Hazan

Eldorjan Hamiti (Albania)

Yellow cards
S.Borg, Pepe, Camenzuli (Mlt); Naor, Natcho, Elias, Badash (Isr)