Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Resilient Malta make their point in Azerbaijan draw
Sep 10, 2018
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UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE
Malta players celebrating their goal against Azerbaijan. Photo: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
Malta players celebrating their goal against Azerbaijan. Photo: Domenic Aquilina/MFA

  • Malta players celebrating their goal against Azerbaijan. Photo: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
  • Photo: Paul Zammit Cutajar/MFA
  • Photo: Joe Borg/MFA
  • Photo: Domenic Aquilina/MFA

UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE

League D – Group 3 10.9.2018
National Stadium – Ta’ Qali
 

MALTA               1
AZERBAIJAN    1
(HT 1-1)

 
Malta picked up their first point in Group D3 of the UEFA Nations League following a 1-1 draw against Azerbaijan at the National Stadium on Monday night.
 
The Maltese team produced a resilient performance to bounce back from their 3-1 defeat to the Faroe Islands last Friday in what turned out to be a hard-fought encounter with Azerbaijan who are seen among the favourites to win this group.

Coach Ray Farrugia made three changes from the Faroe Islands' match. Ryan Camilleri replaced the injured Zach Muscat in defence, Ryan Fenech was preferred to Rowen Muscat in midfield and In attack, Jean Paul Farrugia started ahead of Alfred Effiong.

 

The first half was a balanced affair with both teams creating good chances.

 

In the ninth minute, a flowing Malta attack saw captain Michael Mifsud dart into the box but his run was illegally halted by centre-back Badavi Huseynov.

 

Montenegrin referee Dabanovic promptly pointed to the spot and Andrei Agius dispatched his penalty kick into the top corner for his fourth international goal for Malta. An excellent start for the hosts.


The first danger from the visitors, who drew their first UNL match 0-0 at home to Kosovo on Friday, came from a shot by Rauf Aliyev in the 23rd minute.

 

Two minutes later Mahir Madatov hit the post after a dangerous attack on the left side but the Azeris equalised in the 26th minute. 

 

A Richard Almeida free-kick from just outside the box was fisted away by goalkeeper Andrew Hogg but from the rebound, Tamkin Khalilzade, positioned wide on the left, beat Hogg with a perfectly-angled shot, giving the Hibernians shot-stopper no chance.
 

For the remainder of the first half, Malta tried hard to gain ground and had a very positive spell before the referee sent both teams to the dressing rooms for the half-time break.


The second half was less entertaining than the first but the game remained intense with both teams striving to gain a foothold in the match.

 

Five minutes into the second half, Malta came close to a second goal when Joseph Mbong's cross from the right sailed towards the far post but Paul Fenech's stooping header hit the side-netting.

 

Azerbaijan upped their pressure in search of a winning goal in the closing stages but the Maltese held firm to gain a deserved point.

 

In the second half, Farrugia had to take Agius off injured, bringing om Victoria Hotspurs defender Ferdinando Apap, his second cap for Malta.

 

Not much later, Roderick Briffa entered the fray, his 97th cap, instead of Ryan Fenech while Alfred Effiong replaced Farrugia in attack .
 

All in all it was a fair outcome to a balancec encounter in which the Maltese players clearly played their hearts out, producing an enterprising and disciplined performance which was rewarded with a first point in this new competition.
 

Malta’s next opponents are Kosovo on 11th October, followed three days later by another away game in Azerbaijan.


MALTA

A. Hogg, J. Zerafa, S. Borg, A. Agius, (F. Apap 51), R. Camilleri, P. Fenech, R. Fenech, (R. Briffa 64’), J. Mbong, A. Schembri, M. Mifsud, J.P. Farrugia, (A. Effiong 77’).

 

AZERBAIJAN

K. Agayev, P. Pashayev, (U. Abbasov 34’), M. Medvedev, B. Huseynov, T. Kalilzade, G. Garayev, R. Almeida, M. Madatov, (J. Imamverdiyev 56’), D. Nazarov, E.Makhmudov, R.Aliyev (R.Sheydaev 67’).
 

Referee: Nikola Dabanovic (Montenegro).

 

Attendance: 4,500.

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