World Cup Qualifier | Malta 0 – England 4

Despite a good first half performance, Malta conceded four goals inside the second half as Ghedin’s side suffered a 4-0 defeat.

Jordan Henderson challenging Andre Schembri for the ball. Photo: Christine Borg
Jordan Henderson challenging Andre Schembri for the ball. Photo: Christine Borg

Malta came into this match hoping for a good performance against the best side in the group. As stated by Ghedin in yesterday’s press conference, this was a match in which the Maltese players had to play for their pride.

On the other hand, England were conscious that a win over Malta will ensure that they will remain at least two points ahead of Slovakia before facing them on Monday in a top of the table clash. This gave the English players an extra motivation to secure the three points.

However, it was Malta who created the first opportunity on goal after three minutes. Ryan Fenech hit a volley from distance that ended up slightly over.

England replied immediately and were denied by Andrew Hogg. Dele Alli’s cross was met by Harry Kane whose header forced a wonderful save from the Maltese goalkeeper.

The English players had another chance on the 11th minute. Alli received the ball inside the penalty area and finished over from close range.

In the remaining minutes prior to half time, the Maltese did an excellent job in defence as they managed to hold the English players from creating any chances on goal. In fact, England only managed to create another opportunity in the additional time when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain went inside the penalty area and hit a low shot that was neutralised by Hogg.

Knowing that something need to be changed in order to break Malta, Gareth Southgate introduced Marcus Rashford in beginning of the second half. The Manchester United forward took Raheem Sterling’s place.

Malta produced the first chance of the second half on the 50th minute. Andre Schembri hit a powerful drive from the edge of the penalty area that slightly missed the target.

However, England went ahead three minutes later. Following a congestion inside Malta’s penalty area, Alli served Kane and the latter finished past Hogg.

Malta hit back on the 56th minute. Sam Magri won the ball inside the centre of the pitch, ran towards the penalty area, and fired a powerful drive that went centimetres wide.

On the hour mark, Kane tried his luck with a strong shot from distance that was blocked by Hogg.

An incident happened on the 70th minute when a supporter went inside the pitch and ran towards the English players. The police controlled the situation and the game went on.

On the 75th minute, Marcus Rashford sent a shot from distance that was once more parried by Hogg.

England sealed the issue on the 86th minute. Ryan Bertrand fired a shot from distance that ended up inside the net past Hogg.

Southgate’s side scored again on the 90th minute. Substitute Danny Welbeck received a through ball on the right side of the penalty area and placed the ball inside the net.

The Maltese defence completely stopped and conceded another on the 92nd minute. Rashford sent Kane through on goal and the English striker finished behind Hogg.

Malta will now play against Scotland next Monday.

Malta starting line-up: Andrew Hogg, Sam Magri, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius, Ryan Fenech, Andre Schembri, Zach Muscat, Jean Paul Farrugia, Bjorn Kristensen, Joseph Zerafa, Steve Pisani

England starting line-up: Joe Hart, Kyle Walker, Ryan Bertrand, Jordan Henderson, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Raheem Sterling, Jake Livermore, Harry Kane, Delle Alli, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Referee: Artur Dias (Portugal)

Assistant Referees: Rui Tavares, Paulo Soares

Fourth Official: Joao Pinheiro