The Malta Independent 17 August 2022, Wednesday

Nations League: Malta back on track with Zach Muscat header

Chris Cassar Monday, 13 June 2022, 04:42 Last update: about 3 months ago

Malta returned to winning ways beating San Marino thanks to a Zach Muscat header at the start of the second half. It was a hard earned but deserved victory for the boys in red. Malta found the going hard especially in the first half as San Marino’s compact defence made it impossible for the Maltese to operate in attack.

Malta is now level with Estonia on six points, but the Maltese side has played one more game.

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After taking the lead it was a completely different game with Malta going near on several occasions but the San Marino goalkeeper was in splendid form. Now Malta are still with a chance but they have to beat Estonia in Tallinn in September.

The match started with a minute’s silence in memory of kit manager Mark Piscopo who passed away on Friday. Before the match in the main VIP stand, MFA President Bjorn Vassallo presented flowers to Mark’s widow, present at the national stadium.

Devis Mangia made four changes from the last match against Estonia. Two of these from three-defender set-up with Zach Muscat and Ferdinando Apap playing instead of Steve Borg and Jean Boeg.

The other two changes were in the forward roles with Luke Montebello instead of Alexander Satariano and Luke Gambin playing instead of Jurgen Degabriele.

San Marino had an aggressive start and the Maltese took some time to settle down. However after this difficult start the Maltese took full control of the match having over 70% possession in the first half.

However gaol scoring opportunities were scarce with the best move coming towards Camenzuli who first-timed wide. There were other efforts from Mbong and Teddy Teuma, with both shots missing the target as the Maltese were struggling to find open spaces in the packed San Marino defence.

In the second half Malta was more aggressive and determined and after five minutes the boys in red scored what proved to be the winner. Ryan Camenzuli’s cross was met by Zach Muscat who headed beautifully home.

Malta continued to attack creating several scoring opportunities but San Marino goalkeeper Benedettini was outstanding making a string of great saves off shots from Teuma, Mbong, Gauillaumier and Degabriele.

But his greatest save was made off a point blank header from Teddy Teuma. On 63 minutes Luke Montebello managed to put the ball at the back of the net but Malta’s joy was shortlived as the goal was disallowed after consultation with the VAR system. The same Montebello had another great opportunity on 80 minutes but he incredibly missed all alone in front of goal after another brilliant cross from Camenzuli.

San Marino had a D’Addorio shot hitting the base of the upright and on 96 minutes the Malta rearguard almost repeated the mistake made against Estonia, losing possession of the ball give San Marino numerical superiority, but luckily our opponents failed to capitalise and the Malta defence cleared the danger, to the great sigh of relief of all present. 

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