The Malta Independent 11 December 2018, Tuesday

UEFA Nations League: Gift goals pave way for Malta’s humiliating defeat against Kosovo

Henry Brincat Saturday, 17 November 2018, 20:29 Last update: about 22 days ago
Photos: Domenic Aquilina
Photos: Domenic Aquilina

Malta        0

Kosovo      5

Malta: A. Hogg, J. Caruana, J. Zerafa, J. Mbong, L. Gambin, A. Schembri, R. Muscat (M. Mifsud 64), J. Corbolan (A. Effiong 64), R. Camilleri, R. Briffa (P. Fenech 75), Z. Muscat

Kosovo: S. Ujkani, F. Aliti, H. Shala, H. Kryeziu, M. Rasika, A. Zeneli (D. Avdijaj 71), A. Rrahmani, V. Berisha (B. Hallimi 61), M. Vojvoda, B. Kololli, V. Muriqi (S. Demhasaj 84)

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Referee: B. Frankowski (Poland)

Asst refs: M. Boniek, D. I. Golis

4th official: A. Kupsik

Add. Asst refs: D. Stefanski, K. Jakubik.

Scorers: V. Muriqi 15, B. Kololli 70, D. Avdijaj 77, 79, M. Rashica 85

Yellow cards: J. Mbong 26, R. Briffa 52, A. Effiong 65

Attendance: 2,115

Malta suffered its 4th defeat from five matches yesterday as it went down to Group leaders Kosovo 5-0 at Ta' Qali yesterday evening.

Goals by V. Muriqi and B. Kololli - both gift goals - paved the way for Kosovo's win which was ascertained later in the second half by a further three goals.

With just one match to go, Kosovo have 11 points, followed by Azerbaijan, their only real challengers for the top place, on nine points, after the latter's win against the Faroe Islands.

It was a deserved win for Kosovo who enjoyed possession for long periods though having to wait till the final 20 minutes to add four more goals to their 1-0 half time lead.

With central defenders Andrei Agius and Steve Borg suspended, coach Ray Farrugia took the opportunity to bring back into the side Jonathan Caruana and Zach Muscat and he also gave a start to Luke Gambin.

For veteran Gzira midfielder Roderick Briffa, it was his 100th appearance in the Malta shirt. He was named captain on this special occasion.

The match confirmed Malta's limitations as the side collapsed completely in the second half, especially in the last 20 minutes.

In the first half, Kosovo were a superior outfit dominating play for most of the time.

Malta failed to settle down and after the young Mbong unfortunately gifted the visitors with their goal on 15 minutes, it was obvious that the locals were facing a really uphill struggle.

Despite the dashing of the same Mbong, Gambin, Corbolan and Rowen Muscat there seemed to be little cohesion between midfield and attack as Andre Schembri was isolated up front. And it had to be Andrew Hogg, the returning Caruana, Camilleri and Zach Muscat to keep Kosovo's lead to just one goal.

In the second half, Malta appeared to be reacting in an effort to get an equaliser, but Kosovo defended well and never gave the locals a chance to have a pot at goal.

When Malta gifted a second goal to the visitors on 70 minutes, it was all over. From then on, there was a complete collapse at the back and the Kosovo strikers went past our defence with ease to net another three goals to make it a resounding win for them and a very humiliating defeat for our boys.

Kosovo quickly went into attack and in the 2nd minute, from a Rashica cross, it was Muriqi who headed just wide.

At the other end, Malta also had a good chance when off a Gambin cross, Corbolan and Schembri got into each other's way and the ball was cleared away with ease by the Kosovo defence.

Kosovo opened the scoring on 15 minutes, when Mbong indulged too much in a personal action, lost control of the ball and Vedat Muriqi had an open way towards our goal, making no mistake when faced by the onrushing Hogg.

Kosovo were again dangerous on 23 minutes when Berisha set Zeneli in the Malta area, but faced by Hogg, he shot into the side rigging.

Kosovo remained firmly in command and in the 35th minute from a Rashica cross, Lazio's Berisha blasted the ball high over the post.

In the 40th minute, it was Hogg who saved Malta's fort as he dived sideways to turn a hard drive by Berisha to corner.

Malta started the second half on attack and Corbolan hit wide from the edge of the area in the 47th minute.

In the 50th minute, a Roderick Briffa shot was deviated to a corner by a Kosovo defender.

In the 70th minute it was 2-0 as Zach Muscat and Ryan Camilleri got into each other's way gifting an easy chance to Benjamin Kololli who scored with a lob over Hogg.

Between the 77 and 79th minutes, Kosovo scored two goals through substitute Donis Avdijaj, following crosses from Muriqi and Rashica respectively.

On the 82nd minute came Malta's first real effort on goal - a Gambin first timer which was kicked out by goalie Ujkani.

The rout continued as the fifth goal arrived on 85 minutes with a great shot by Rashica which hit the post before finishing in the net.

The final whistle provided absolutely no relief for the Malta squad which now faces the Faroe Islands on Tuesday needing a victory to avoid bottom place in the Group.

 

Farrugia expresses his huge disappointment after humiliating defeat

National coach Ray 'Zazu' Farrugia was a hugely disappointed man after yesterday's humiliation at the hands of Kosovo.

Addressing the post-match press conference, he admitted that the mistakes which led to the opening two goals led to the collapse of the team which suffered three further goals in the final few minutes.

He said: "Such banal mistakes must be avoided. We cannot continue suffering such goals as those opening two goals. If fail to avoid such mistakes, we will continue suffering," he added.

Farrugia is now looking forward towards next Tuesday's match against the Faroe Islands. "It is crucial for both sides. We have to forget this result and concentrate solely on the forthcoming game. My only satisfaction will be a win and not a draw. That will enable us to avoid the bottom placing.

"Against Kosovo, we missed the absence of central defenders Borg and Agius, even if the returning Jonathan Caruana had a very satisfying performance. If we win on Tuesday, I am sure we will be back on track," he remarked.

Farrugia was courageous enough to make a double substitution when the score was still 1-0, with two strikers - Mifsud and Effiong - replacing midfielders Corbolan and R. Muscat. "I think that was a positive move as at that moment we had been pressing them, but unfortunately it did not work. Instead, we suffered a second goal soon after and that was the start of our collapse," he added.

He concluded: "At the moment, the morale of the team is low, but I am sure I will be able to bring back enthusiasm in my squad members to be able to do their very best against the Faroe Islands."

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