The Malta Independent 25 June 2019, Tuesday

Euro 2020: Sharp Romania inflict heavy defeat on Malta

Chris Cassar Monday, 10 June 2019, 23:10 Last update: about 14 days ago
Photo: Domenic Aquilina
Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Malta - Romania   0-4

Malta: H. Bonello, S. Borg, A. Agius, J. Mbong, P. Fenech (J. Grech 59'), R. Muscat, J. Corbolan (L. Montebello 84'), A. Effiong, J. Zerafa, L. Gambin (M. Mifsud 67'), Z. Muscat.

Romania: C. Tatarasanu, I. Cristea, I. Nedelcearu (C. Sapunaru 35'), T. Baluta, A. Chipciu, I. Hagi, G. Puscas, N. Bancu, C. Keseru (D. Man 65'), R. Marin, A. Maxim (D. Rotariu 74').

Referee: Dennis Higler (Netherlands)

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Ass. Referees: Davie Goossens, Joost van Zullen (Netherlands)

Fourth Official: Bas Nijhuis (Netherlands)

Scorers: G. Puscas 7, 29', A. Chipciu 35', D. man 91'

Yellow Cards: A. Chipciu, S. Borg

Red Card: A. Chipiu 80'

Romania scored three goals in the first half to wrap up the match at Ta' Qali and gain the much needed win in their quest to earn a place in the Euro 2020 finals. It was an easy win for Romania who were in a class of their own, against a Malta side that ventured forward for long stretches, but a Malta side that had gaping holes in defence.

Romania were lethal in their attacks and in the first half they scored three goals with four attempts at goal, with the other shot hitting the base of the upright. Once again Malta suffered an early goal, in Romania's first attack, and the match immediately looked to be an uphill task for the Maltese.

The locals surely gave their all and creating some scoring opportunities but failed miserably in front of goal. On the contrary our opponents showed class, composure and clinical finish to inflict an unexpected heavy defeat on Ray Farrugia's eleven.

Coach Ray Farrugia made two changes from the initial line up that faced Sweden in Solna, with Jake Grech and Luke Montebello making way for Joseph Zerafa and Paul Fenech. On the other hand Romanian coach Cosmin Contra made a whole revolution to the side that faced Norway in Oslo last Saturday.

Contra made six changes introducing the likes of Cristea, Nedelcearu, Hagi, Bancu, Marin, and Maxim, but leaving the attacking tandem of George Puscas and Claudiu Keseru, with the latter having scored in all games played so far by Romania in these qualifiers.

Malta started on the offensive dominating the midfield sector and pushing their opponents in their own area. On six minute Andrei Agius had an effort sailing over the bar, and in their first break Romania broke the deadlock.

Bancu had an open field on the left and crossed towards Puscas who all alone in front of Bonello miskicked the ball but the ball hit his shin completely deceiving Bonello. The Maltese were not downhearted and continued to play open football, but the Romanians were deadly in their breaks.

On 17 minutes the base of the tuprigh saved Bonelo when Puscas dribbled past the Malta custodian but this grounder from an acute angle hit the base of the upright. Two minutes later a golden opportunity for the Maltese with Corbolan having a good break, but he hesitated and his shot was easily saved by Tatarasanu.

On 29 minutes Romania doubled the score with a very well taken goal with Keseru squaring the ball to Puscas whose low shot hit the base of the upright before finishing at the back of the net. The Maltese were now clearly a demoralised ;ot and on 35 minutes Romania sealed off the issue with a third goal when Chipciu scored a great goal from the edge of the area giving Bonello no chance to save.

In the last minutes the Maltese had two opportunities to at least reduce the arrears, but in both instances Alfred Effiong was anything but sharp in front of goal, missing two very good chances.

The second halfwas less intense, with the Romanians controlling the match and with the Maltese trying in vain to a t least get a consolation goal. On 56 minute Effiong was put through from a throw in, but his shot missed the target. Two minutes later Bonello saved a Keseru freekick and on the hour Bonello was again called in action to save a Maxim scorcher.

Although Malta continued to attack, Romania had the best chances with Bonello again denying Man. On 70 minutes Bonello could do nothing but luckily Marin's bombshell skimmed the crossbar. On 79 minutes off a corner action the unmarked Puscas went near his hat trick but his header went slightly over the bar.

Ten minutes from time Romania were down to ten players when Chipiu received a second booking. Malta made a last ditch effort to score at least a consolation goal with substitute Michael Mifsud going close on two occasions, but in stoppage time substitute Man added misery to the Malta squad scoring the fourth goal in a fast break. 

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