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Powerful Slovaks beat Malta Under 21 in Friendly

Published: Mon 25 Mar 2024, 22:02
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Tony Bezzina Stadium, 25.03.2024

(HT 0-2)

0-1 Veselovsky 5, 0-2 Tucny 44, 1-2 Veselji 55, 1-3 Sauer 66, 1-4 Gajdos 90+3

After going down 3-1 in Belgium last Thursday, the Malta Under 21 closed another international window with a Friendly match against Slovakia this evening, with the guest winning 4-1. The Slovaks proved to be a hard nut to crack, a powerful team who beat the Spanish Under-21s 2-0 in Jerez last week in another Friendly.

Malta coach Ivan Woods changed his starting line-up on five places when in comparison with their recent outing in Leuven. Andrew Borg and Kurt Briffa, who entered as a substitute against the Belgians, were amongst the first eleven along with Zean Leonardi, Mattia Veselji and goalkeeper Matthias Debono.

The Slovaks, who are hosting the UEFA 2025 Under-21 Championships in June, took an early fifth minute lead. Adam Gazi was sent through on the right flank, crossing to Roman Cerepkai who’s close-range attempt was blocked by Debono but Dominik Veselovsky hit home the rebound. Malta ventured forward when possible, with Veselji and Basil Tuma keeping the Slovakian rear-guard on the alert but without creating much danger in the box. One minute before the end of the half, the guests doubled thanks to a Adam Tucny tap-in, after Jan Murgas did all the hard work om the right side.

Malta had a great chance seven minutes after the break when Tuma was sent away on the left flank, using his speed to beat his marker with Veselji missing his cross by an inch, an action which deserved a goal. But moments later the hosts pulled one back through Veselji, rounding off another fine Tuma run from close-range. On 64 minutes, Debono did well to block a Timotej Jambor grounder after another fluent Slovakia attack down the right flank. Two minutes later however, another substitute, Mario Sauer, kicked home the third goal from around 20 meters distance, leaving Debono grounded.

The home-side had their moments in the opposite box, but it was Slovakia who added a fourth deep into stoppage time thanks to a Artur Gajdos free-kick. Tempers flared after the final goal with the referee in charge sending off substitute goalkeeper Reeves Cini and Slovakian substitute Nino Marcelli in the process.

Matthias Debono (Reeves Cini 88), Zean Leonardi, Jake Vassallo (Jake Micallef 68), Owen Spiteri, Andrew Borg (Matthew Debattista 88), Kurt Briffa (Karl Mohnani 46), Dylan Scicluna, Kurt Bondin (Andrea Zammit 68), Aleandro Garzia, Basil Tuma, Mattia Veselji (Jake Engerer 82).
Coach: Ivan Woods

Tomas Fruhwald (Michal Kukucka 46), Tomas Jasso, Martin Gomola (Dominik Javorcek 72), Filip Mielke (Patrick Leitner 72), Martin Svidersky (Mario Sauer 61), Samuel Kopasek, Jan Murgas (Artur Gajdos 72), Dominik Veselovsky (Adrian Kapralik 72), Adam Tucny (Alexander Selecky 61), Adam Gazi (Nino Marcelli 61), Roman Cerepkai (Timotej Jambor 61).
Coach: Jaroslav Kentos

Fyodor Zammit 

Images copyright Andre Farrugia