The Malta Independent 15 October 2021, Friday

Qatar 2022: Last-gasp Degabriele equaliser gives spirited Malta a deserved draw

Chris Cassar Monday, 11 October 2021, 21:08 Last update: about 3 days ago

Malta obtained a dramatic 97th minute equaliser against Cyprus through substitute Jurgen Degabriele to earn its fifth point in the World Cup qualifying group.

The result also leaves Mangia’s side just above Cyprus in the standings, with two matches to go.

Malta was still smarting from the home debacle against Slovenia at Ta’ Qali, and Cyprus was still smarting from the home defeat against Croatia. Mangia, as expected, made some changes to the side that faced Slovenia.

These changes and the lessons learned against Slovenia transformed the Maltese side especially in the second half.

Malta was rather plucky at the start, making some avoidable mistakes at the back, when the Cyprus players pressed high.

From one of these mistakes Cyprus took an early lead, but Malta recovered from this setback as the players in white grew in composure.

At the start of the second half Malta took the initiative and Cyprus were in difficulty at the back.

Malta obtained a deserved equaliser through Zach Muscat on 52 minutes and the game was now an open contest with Malta in search of a second goal.

Malta was very unlucky hitting the base of the upright, but then suffered Cyprus’ second goal ten minutes from time against the run of play.

Photos: Domenic Aquilina

But the Malta side made that heroic extra effort to obtain a dramatic and well deserved 97th minute equaliser.

Mangia introduced Steve Borg at the back together with Pepe and Zach Muscat.

Cain Attard was shifted to the right instead of the suspended Joseph Mbong and Ryan Camenzuli made a welcome return on the left flank after missing the Slovenia clash due to suspension.

Triston Caruana was included in midfield together with a brilliant Teuma, with Jake Grech in attacck with Luke Montebello and Paul Mbong.

Malta had a shaky start, committing some mistakes just outside our area and on seven minutes we were made to pay when Poupolis beat Bonello from the edge of the area.

Malta had a good counter attack on the half hour but Jake Grech failed to take advantage.

On the resumption Steve Pisani came in for Caruana and Malta looked more aggressive and obtained the equaliser on 52 minutes when Zach Muscat headed home a Teddy Teuma corner. Malta lost Steve Borg four minutes later and almost took the lead on 71 minutes from another corner action with the Cyprus goalkeeper punching the ball against the base of the upright.

Against the run of play ten minutes from time Cyprus regained the lead with Sotiriou hitting home from close range. Malta also lost goalkeeper Bonello who injured his ankle in the action of the second goal.

Malta however did not throw in the towel and on 97 minutes obtained the equaliser when from a Teddy Teuma freekick, Jurgen Degabriele managed to squeeze the ball home to the delight of the Malta team and the over 150 supporters who followed the team in Larnaca.

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