The Malta Independent 17 August 2022, Wednesday

Nations League: Last gasp blunder completes Malta’s disastrous night

Chris Cassar Friday, 10 June 2022, 06:09 Last update: about 3 months ago

Estonia beat Malta yesterday at the National Stadium to practically earn promotion to Group C o the UEFA Nations League. It was a last gasp blunder by the plucky and erratic Malta team that paved the way for Estonia’s victory.

Our promotion hopes are practically over now. We can only hope to beat San Marino on Sunday and then hope for a miracle win in Tallinn in September. It was a dismal display from the Malta side who missed a penalty in the first half, somehow managed the equaliser early in the second half but then failed to gain home advantage to suffer the goal that practically sealed Malta’s fate.

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Result apart it was the overall display of the Malta side that was the greatest disappointment on the night. The Maltese players made too many mistakes during the whole 95 minutes and in the end we paid a very high price.

Coach Devis Mangia made only a couple of changes from the initial line up that started in Serravalle against San Marino on Sunday. Ryan Camenzuli and Teddy Teuma, who were suspended against San Marino, made a welcome return, taking the place of Adam Magri Overend and Dunstan Vella.

The match had a quite start with both sides pressing high, and with both sides rather erratic. Then on 14 minutes Malta won a corner and from Camenzuli’s kick from the corner flag the ball was handled by Teniste, and after the endless VAR check, the Scottish referee awarded the penalty. But from the penalty spot Teddy Teuma failed to score with Hein easily saving his weak and predictable drive.

To make it worse, some minutes later the same Teuma lost a precious ball just outside our penalty area and Vassiljev shot immediately with the ball hitting the base of the upright before finishing at the back of the net.

This double blow made the match an uphill task for the Maltese who were now clearly under shock. Gradually Malta took control of the game but it was hard to penetrate the Estonian defence who now had all their men behind the ball leaving practically no space for Malta’s moves. Just before the break Bonello saved the day when he blocked another shot from Vassiljev.

Rather surprisingly Mangia made no changes at the interval and after thirty seconds Ryan Camenzuli had a shot going wide. Malta was now more determined with Mbong trying his luck from long range. Malta had the best move on 55 minutes with Teuma passing towards Degabriele who was denied by Hein. From the resultant corner Jurgen Degabriele scored direct from the corner flag with the help of goalkeeper Hein who completely off guard punched the ball into his own net.

The game was now open to all results but the Maltese continued to miss even simple passes, especially from the likes of Teuma who surely had an off day. With both sides seemingly happy with a draw, the unexpected happened.

On 95 minutes Steve Borg lost the ball on the half way line and with Bonello and co completely out of position Zenjov passed towards Anier who slotted home in an empty net.

Photo: Domenic Aquilina

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