The Malta Independent 29 May 2024, Wednesday
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Euro 2024: Malta beaten in Skopje after brilliant first half

Chris Cassar Friday, 24 March 2023, 05:22 Last update: about 2 years ago

Malta suffered a defeat in Skopje against North Macedonia in the opening match of the Group C European qualifiers.

Coach Marcolini pledged for a brave display on the eve of the match and his players re‐ sponded well especially in the first half, which was surely a very brilliant display from the Maltese.

In the second half however Macedonia in‐ creased their tempo as the Maltese strug‐ gled to keep the pace and suffered two goals in the space of seven minutes, but Malta did nt throw in the towel and pulled one back five minutes from time through substitute Yankam. Malta bravely pushed for more in the remaining minutes with Macedonia in a state of panic. Tempers flaired too with Macedonia coach Milevski sent off the pitch. Malta created a couple of melees in front of goal in the last desperate minutes but Macedonia held on to the pre‐ cious lead.

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Michele Marcolini started with the Mbong brothers, Joseph and Paul in his first ever starting eleven with the national team. There were few surprises with Bonello in goal and with Steve Borg, Ferdinando Apap and Cain Attard forming the back three aided on the flanks by Camenzuli and Joseph Mbong.

Kristensen and Matthew Guillaumier were the midfielders with Teuma, Satari‐ anio and Paul Mbong in an advanced initial position.

Malta had the first attempt of the game with Teuma’s effort sailing over the bar.

Malta stood their ground in the opening fif‐ teen minutes trying to keep possession of the ball, with the only danger coming from Napoli’s Elmas with his irresistible drib‐ bling.

On 18 minutes Velkovski headed over the bar from a corner action in Macedonia’s first attempt at goal. On 26 minutes Guil‐ laumier lost possession of the ball but Tra‐ jkovski’s effort was well off target. In stoppage the best chance of the first half came Malta’s way when Paul Mbong headed towards Guillaumier who hesitated in front of goal and was blocked in time by a defender. The first half came to an end with a Ryan Camenzuli first timer from an acute angle missing the target.

No changes at the start of the second half and Malta in full control till the 59th minute when Macedonia were awarded a penalty, but this decision was overturned by the VAR. The goal however was round the corner and arrived on 66 minutes in Macedonia’s best patch with Elmas firing low into the net from the edge of the area after a well orchestrated move.

This was a severe blow for Malta as Mace‐ donia were now finding more space to ma‐ neuvre and on 72 minutes they doubled the score with another great effort from the edge of the area from substitute Churlinov.

Five minutes from time Malta managed to pull one back when substitute Yannick Yankam managed to squeeze the ball home from close range for a dream debut with the national team. The remaining minutes were an open contest with Malta in search of an incredible equaliser, but Malta had to leave the field empty handed.

 

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