Malta Football Association
Croatia too strong for Malta
Nov 11, 2021
Posted in:
(c) Domenic Aquilina
(c) Domenic Aquilina

  • (c) Domenic Aquilina
  • (c) Domenic Aquilina
  • (c) Domenic Aquilina
  • (c) Domenic Aquilina
  • (c) Domenic Aquilina


European Qualifying Group H


National Stadium, Ta’ Qali



(HT 1-4)

Another hard night for our boys in red, facing a Croatia team who were superior in all divisions. The 1-7 goalline tells the whole story, the visitors dominated with an exceptional Andrej Kramaric and the usual solid Luka Modric being the driving motors behind nearly all attacks. The hosts made some errors in defensive but failed collectively with Croatia goalkeeper Ivo Grbic having a rather quiet night. 

Mangia welcomed back Hibernians trio Andrei Agius, again Malta’s captain in his 102nd international cap, Bjorn Kristensen, his first appearance in the national team colours since the Kosovo friendly in June and Jurgen Degabriele, who started on the bench in the Cyprus qualifier last month. Kurt Shaw and Joseph Mbong were given a place in the starting line-up as well, the latter was suspended for the Cyprus game.


The visitors took an early sixth minute lead, the start they hoped for, thanks to a mistake in the Maltese defence. The built-up from a goalkeeper kick went horribly wrong, with Andrej Kramaric intercepting the ball, passing to the unmarked Ivan Perisic, who had the easiest of tasks to beat Bonello from close range. On 13 minutes, a Jurgen Degabriele goal was ruled out for off-side, even after an in-depth VAR check. On 22 minutes, Croatia added their second. A Luka Modric free-kick from the left side was headed passed Bonello by centre-back Duje Caleta-Car. 


Just after the half hour mark, Malta pulled one back when a Degabriele cross from the left angle of the box was misjudged by Marcelo Brozovic, beating his own goalkeeper from close range. However, on 39 minutes, Croatia restored their two-goal advantage. On a swift counter-attack, Kamaric was sent through, who crossed the ball perfectly to Mario Pasalic, beating Bonello from close-range for the third time. Two minutes later, a Perisic header was saved by Bonello without much difficulty, but on the stroke of half-time, Modric finished off another wonderful Croatian attack, beating Bonello with a grounder from close range.


Croatia continued their run towards the Malta box straight after kick-off, which resulted in their fifth goal on 47 minutes. This time it was Lovro Majer, again from close-range, finishing off from a Kramaric cross. Perisic missed a sitter with only Bonello to beat two minutes later but on 53 minutes, the visitors added goal number six, with their best player Kramaric, punishing a wrong back-pass. Eleven minutes later, Majer added his second goal of the evening by finishing off another fluent Croatian attack. The Croatians refused to lift their food from the peddle but Malta managed to limit the damage in the last twenty minutes, also thanks to some splendid goalkeeping by Henry Bonello. A night without any positives, one to forget quickly.


Earlier today, Group H leaders trashed Cyprus 6-0 in St Petersburg while Slovenia and Slovakia shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw. 


Malta: Henry Bonello, Kurt Shaw (Karl Micallef 83), Enrico Pepe, Andrei Agius, Ryan Camenzuli, Cain Attard, Joseph Mbong (Shaun Dimech 69), Bjorn Kristensen (Steve Pisani 46), Teddy Teuma (Matthew Guillaumier 62), Luke Montebello (Alex Satariano 62), Jurgen Degabriele

Coach: Devis Mangia


Croatia: Ivo Grbic, Borna Sosa, Josko Gvardiol, Duje Caleta-Car, Josip Juranovic, Mario Pasalic (Marko Livaja 62), Luka Modric (Nikola Vlasic 54), Marcelo Brozovic (Kristijan Jakic 46), Ivan Perisic (Mislav Orsic 54), Lovro Majer, Andrej Kramaric (Bruno Petkovic 54).

Coach: Zlatko Dalic


Referee: Denis Aytekin (Germany)


Yellow card: Pepe (M)

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