Croatia defeat ten-man Malta

Croatia defeated Malta 2-0 in the first match from Group H of the Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Croatia's Mateo Kovacic keeps the ball away from Malta's Ryan Fenech. Photo by Paul Zammit Cutajar / MFA
Croatia's Mateo Kovacic keeps the ball away from Malta's Ryan Fenech. Photo by Paul Zammit Cutajar / MFA

Malta started the match on a positive note creating a great scoring opportunity in the first two minutes of the match. Andre Schembri tested goalkeeper Danijel Subasic from close range.

Croatia immediately responded on the fourth minute when a cross by Darwijo Srna was blocked by goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.

Croatia started to slowly take control of the match and push Malta back in their own end.

The match turned for the worse for Malta when defender Steve Borg was sent off for retaliation on Mario Mandzukic. Malta’s coach Pietro Ghedin immediately pulled out Michael Mifsud and replaced him with Balzan defender Steve Bezzina.

With two minutes left in the first half, Croatia came close to taking the lead when off a corner, Mandzukic’s header went just over the bar.

Malta managed to hold on until the end of the first half to keep the score 0-0.

The home fans showed their frustration as they whistled and booed their players off the pitch. With a team including Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, Atletico Madrid’s Mario Mandzukic and Inter’s Meteo Kovacic they expected more.

Croatia made sure they started the second half on a good note when they took the lead just after 30 seconds of play. A low shot from outside the area by Luka Moderic beat goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.

Croatia continued to dominate the match, but when Malta managed to go on the attack they played good football even though they were a man down.

Croatia made sure they collected all the points on the 81st minute. Off a perfect pass by Nikica Jelavic, Andrej Kramaric beat Hogg with his low shot.

Malta’s goalkeeper Andrew Hogg was in top form as in the final minutes of the match, Croatia could have easily increased the lead, but fine goalkeeping kept the ball out of the net.

CROATIA Danijel Subašić, Hrvoje Milić, Vedran Ćorluka, Dejan Lovren, Ivan Rakitić, Alen Halilović (67′ Andrej Kramarić), Luka Modrić, Darijo Srna, Marcelo Brozović, Mario Mandžukić (79′ Ivica Olić), Mateo Kovačić (46′ Nikica Jelavić).

MALTA Andrew Hogg, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius, Ryan Fenech, Clayton Failla, Paul Fenech (87′ Ryan Scicluna), Michael Mifsud (33′ Steve Bezzina), Andre Schembri, Rowen Muscat (76′ Bjorn Kristensen), Ryan Camilleri.

Referee: Vladislav Bezborodov (RUS)

Assistant Referees: Nikolai Golubev, Maksim Gavrilin (RUS)

Additional Assistsnt Referees: Sergey Ivanov, Mikhail Vilkov (RUS)

Fourth Official: Valeriy Danchenko (RUS)

Red Cards: S. Borg

Other results

Group A

Kazakhstan - Latvia 0-0

Czech Republic - Netherlands 2-1

Iceland - Turkey 3-0

Group B

Andorra - Wales 1-2

Bosnia-Herzegovina - Cyprus 1-2

Group H

Azerbaijan - Bulgaria 1-2

Croatia - Malta 2-0

Norway - Italy 0-2


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