Finland prove too strong for Malta

Malta’s string of negative results continued with a 5-0 defeat against Finland.

Photo: MFA
Photo: MFA

The Maltese players were eager to bounce back from last Thursday’s disappointing defeat against Luxembourg. However, to do so, they needed to register a positive result against Finland who currently occupies the 68th place in the Fifa World Rankings.

Unlike Malta, Finland were coming from a series of positive results. In fact, the Finnish side secured three wins and three draws in their previous six matches.

Tom Saintfiet made two changes in his starting eleven. Paul Fenech and Zach Muscat made way for Joseph Zerafa and Jean Paul Farrugia.

Finland made their intentions clear from the start and controlled possession throughout the game.

Markku Kanerva's side created the first opportunity of the match after five minutes. Following a corner, Sauli Vaisanen headed the ball off target.

Three minutes later, Moshtagh Yaghoubi received the ball from a corner, but failed to hit the target.

Finland kept on insisting and were denied by Andrew Hogg on the 9th minute. Malta’s goalkeeper showed great reflexes to block Teemu Pukki’s close range shot.

The Scandinavian side remained on the offensive and the opening goal looked almost certain.

In fact, they succeeded on the 13th minute. Yaghoubi delivered a cross from a corner that went into the direction of Kalle Taimi, who headed the ball towards Pukki and the latter saw his effort going past Hogg.

Ten minutes later, Finland doubled their advantage. Robin Lod’s shot forced a fine save from Hogg. However, the Maltese players failed to clear the danger as Finland kept pushing on. Finally, it was Taimi who received the ball inside the penalty area and hit a shot that went inside the net.

Pukki made sure that Finland will go into half-time with a comfortable lead on the 27th minute. The twenty-seven year old sent a low shot from the edge of the penalty area that gave Hogg no chance.

From that point onwards, Finland reduced their tempo, but remained in control.

The next chance on goal was created by Malta on the 59th minute. Luke Gambin’s shot from distance ended up slightly wide.

On the 63rd minute, Robert Taylot fired a powerful drive that went marginally over.

Finland added another goal on the 84th minute. Joona Toivio sent a through-ball towards Frerik Jensen who slotted the ball inside the net.

The score became 5-0 three minutes later. Following another long ball, Pyry Soiri finished behind Hogg.

Malta had a rare chance one minute into the additional time. From a free-kick, Andrei Agius hit a low shot that was parried by Lukas Hradecky.

Finland starting line-up: Jesse Jeronen, Kalle Taimi, Paulus Arajuuri, Sauli Vaisanen, Jere Uronen, Robin Lod, Glen kamara, Thomas Lam, Moshtagh Yaghoubi, Teemu Pukki, Fredrik Jensen

Malta starting line-up: Andrew Hogg, Joseph Zerafa, Steve Borg, Jean Borg, Cain Attard, Andrei Agius, Rowen Muscat, Steve Pisani, Luke Gambin, Andre Schembri, Jean Paul Farrugia