The Malta Independent 24 October 2020, Saturday

Updated - Nations Cup: Goal in 96th minute gives Malta win in Latvia

Chris Cassar Tuesday, 13 October 2020, 20:11 Last update: about 10 days ago

Latvia                    0

Malta                    1

Latvia: P. Steinbors, I. Tarasovs, K. Tobers (E. Emsis 63’), A. Zjuzins (K. Karklins 54’), M. Oss, R. Jurkovskis, J. Ikaunieks, D. Ikaunieks (M. Kigurs 64’), V. Gutkovskis (R. Uldrikis 64’), A. Ciganiks (A. Jaunzems 84’).


Malta: H. Bonello, S. Borg, A. Agius, K. Shaw, J. Mbong, R. Camenzuli, M. Guillaumier, T. Teuma (S. Pisani 75’), P. Mbong (J. Degabriele 69’), L. Montebello, L. Gambin (J. Grech 89’)

Referee: I.A. Griffith (Wales)

Yellow cards: A. Zjuzins, K. Tobers, S. Borg, K. Karklins, A. Agius, A. Ciganiks

Scorer: Steve Borg 96 min

A Steve Borg header on 96 minutes gave Malta a deserved victory over Latvia in Riga, with the Maltese now in second place in the group with five points. What surprises is once again a solid and positive display by Devis Mangia’s boys, who yesterday collected what was lost in Torshavn and in Andorra three days ago.

Malta was only under pressure in parts of the second half, but otherwise the Maltese had more possession of the ball playing with confidence throughout, and with our young players playing with confidence like the more experienced ones.

It is hard to single out the best players on the field of play as everyone from goalkeeper Bonello onwords had a very good display.

Mangia insisted on the now usual set-up of the national team. The three defenders at the back were the experienced Andrei Agius and Steve Borg, who even obtained the winner, together with Kurt Shaw who had an outstanding performance.

Joseph Mbong and Ryan Camenzuli were the two important players on the flank, with the Floriana player really having a great game. In midfield Matthew Guillaumier, back from a suspension that cost him the Andorra match, showed class all over with the opponents forced to foul him to stop him. Teuma also had a brilliant match especially in the first half, fading slightly in the second part.

Up front Gambin was surely instrumental even having some efforts at goal, with Luke Montebello and Paul Mbong growing in composure, surely playing one of the best matches for the national team.

Latvia had the first attempt with Ikaunieks’s shot off target. On nine minutes Paul Mbong’s good effort went slightly over the bar. The Maltese controlled the match, but a rare defensive lapse almost cost us dearly with Savanieks’ header going wide.

On 28 minutes a good move by the Maltese with Teuma’s shot going wide and on the other end Latvia missed their best chance of the game with Savalnieks shooting wide from an ideal position.

On 33 minutes Cikagnics’ long range shot was well blocked by Bonello and six minutes later the Malta custodian, who yesterday celebrated his 32nd birthday was deceived by a Ikaunieks cross shot that finished against the far post.

The second half was less intense with Latvia having some territorial gains, but Malta had the best chances. On 51 minutes Malta had the best chance of the game when Ryan Camenzuli all alone in front of Steinbors, was blocked by the goalkeeper. Six minutes later a Gambin dipper from the edge of the area and Steinbors again made a great save tipping the ball to a corner.

Latvia had some efforts form long distance but Bonallo was always solid and a guarantee between the Malta posts. Deep in stoppage time in literally the last action of the game, substitute Jurgen Degabriele won a freekick which was taken by another substitute Steve Pisani, and Steve Borg’s powerful and precise header completely beat Steinbors for a great goal, a great rare victory, and even a chance to fight for top place in the group.

Photo: Domenic Aquilina

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