2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying | Malta 0 – Slovenia 1

At the national stadium, Benjamin Verbic’s goal one minute in the second half made all the difference for Slovenia as they managed to register a 1-0 win over Malta.

Andrew Hogg in action during Malta's World Cup qualifying match against Slovenia. Photo: Christine Borg
Andrew Hogg in action during Malta's World Cup qualifying match against Slovenia. Photo: Christine Borg

Slovenia lost a golden opportunity on the 7th minute. Ryan Camilleri sent the ball in the path of Josip Llicic who fired wide in front of Andrew Hogg.

On the 12th minute, Hogg was on the alert to deny the Slovenians three times. First, it was Valter Birsa who fired a shot from distance that was saved by the Hibs goalkeeper. The ball fell for Milvoje Novakovic who forced another great save from the Maltese custodian. The Maltese defence failed to clear their lines and Verbic attempted a shot which was neutralised by Hogg once more.

Verbic tried his luck again on the 21st minute when he sent a low shot from distance that sailed wide of the post.

Malta responded two minutes later. Andre Schembri won possession on the right flank and sent an excellent cross towards Luke Gambin who finished wide from an ideal position.

On the half hour mark, Schembri lost an excellent chance for Malta. Michael Mifsud won the ball on the right flank and went past Dejan Traskovski before delivering a pass towards Gambin. The Barnet midfielder hit a strong shot that was parried by Jan Oblak. The rebound fell for Schembri who fired high in front of an open goal.

Slovenia created another good opportunity one minute from half time when Llicic found space and fired a shot that went slightly wide of the post.

The Slovenians managed to go ahead one minute into the second half. Jasmin Kurtic sent a cross inside the penalty area that found Verbic who slotted the ball past Hogg.

Birsa forced another good save from Hogg on the 64th minute. The Chievo midfielder sent a shot from the left side of the penalty area that was tipped by the Maltese goalkeeper.

Srecko Katanec’s side had another shot on goal on the 73rd minute. From a free kick, Llicic saw his effort ending up wide.

The final chance of the match came for substitute Andraz Sporar of Slovenia who tested Hogg again on the 89th minute. The Basel player fired a shot that was parried for a corner.

Malta starting line-up: Andrew Hogg, Samuel Magri, Joseph Zerafa, Gareth Sciberras, Andrei Agius, Michael Mifsud, Luke Gambin, Rowen Muscat, Andre Schembri, Ryan Camilleri, Zach Muscat.

Slovenia starting line-up: Jan Oblak, Nejc Skubic, Miral Samardzic, Bostjan Cesar, Rene Krhin, Josip Llicic, Jasmin Kurtic, Valter Birsa, Milivoje Novakovic, Dejan Trajkovski, Benjamin Verbic.

Referee: Pawel Raczkowski (Poland)

Assistant referees: Michal Obukowicz, Radoslaw Slejka

Fourth official: Tomasz Musial