World Cup Qualifier | Slovenia 2 – Malta 0

Malta's national team remained with no points in group F after suffering a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Slovenia.

Ryan Fenech in action. Photo: Paul Zammit Cutajar
Ryan Fenech in action. Photo: Paul Zammit Cutajar

In the first fifteen minutes, Slovenia controlled possession and won a lot of set pieces in the process. However, they were unable to come up with any serious threat.

In fact, the first chance of the match for Slovenia came on the 16th minute. Josip Illicic hit a low shot from a free kick that was neutralised by Andrew Hogg.

A minute later, Hogg had to be on the alert once more. Following a cross inside the penalty area, Antonio Delamea Mlinar’s effort was parried by the Maltese goalkeeper before Zach Muscat cleared for a corner.

Slovenia were close again on the 27th minute. The ball was delivered inside the penalty area towards Robert Beric whose header ended up slightly over.

On the 34th minute, Slovenia lost a golden opportunity. In an excellent piece of play, Illicic played Benjamin Verbic through, and the latter went inside the penalty area before finishing off target.

Ten minutes later, the home side hit again. Beric delivered the ball towards Verbic who saw his header being blocked by Hogg.

Slovenia’s efforts paid off in the additional time given by the referee prior to half-time. Illicic received the ball on the right side of the penalty area and the Fiorentina midfielder fired a superb curling effort that ended up in the corner of the net past Hogg.

Six minutes into the second half, Malta had a promising opportunity. Alfred Effiong went through on a fast counter but found Jan Oblak in his way.

On the 67th minute, Hogg had to produce an excellent save to keep Malta in the game. Illicic served Verbic and the Slovenian striker hit a drive that was tipped for a corner by the Hibernians goalkeeper. From the resulting corner, Rene’ Krhin headed off target.

Three minutes later, Nik Omladic went inside the penalty area and fired a shot that hit the side netting.

Hogg produced another excellent save on the 74th minute. Nejc Skubic served the unmarked Milivoje Novakovic and the substitute saw his close range effort being blocked by the Maltese goalkeeper.

Novakovic went close again two minutes later. The Maribor striker sent a low shot that sailed off target.

Slovenia sealed the issue on the 84th minute. Illicic went running down the right flank before sending a cross towards Novakovic who slotted the ball behind the Maltese goalkeeper.

In the additional time, Illicic who was definitely the best player of the match hit a powerful drive that was saved by Hogg.