UEFA Nations League: Malta defeated in Ray Farrugia’s first competitive match

Malta kicked off their UEFA Nations League campaign with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Faroe Islands.

Malta's goalscorer Michael Mifsud. Photo: Paul Zammit Cutajar / MFA
Malta's goalscorer Michael Mifsud. Photo: Paul Zammit Cutajar / MFA

Faroe Island started the match as favourites due to various reasons. Apart from the fact that they were playing on their home soil, the small nation are ranked 90th, while Malta are ranked 184th. In addition, Faroe are unbeaten at home since June 2017.

Furthermore, the home side also hold the advantage when it comes to direct clashes. Faroe Islands and Malta played against each other four times prior to this match. The hosts won three times, while Malta registered one victory in November of 2013.

Malta made a good start to the match. The Maltese players managed to hold Faroe’s players and also had their fair share of possession.

In fact, the first real chance was created by Malta after sixteen minutes. Rowen Muscat sent Michael Mifsud through down the right side. The veteran striker ran forward and hit a shot that was blocked by Gunnar Nielsen.

Faroe replied a minute later. Gunnar Vatnhamar delivered a cross towards Simun Edmunsson whose effort was neutralised by Andrew Hogg.

Malta’s goalkeeper was on the alert again on the 20th minute. From a free-kick, Brandur Hendriksson drilled a low shot that was parried by the thirty-three year old goalkeeper.

Despite Malta’s efforts, a mistake by Joseph Zerafa gifted Faroe the opening goal on the 31st minute. The Valletta defender played the ball back in the direction of Edmunsson who placed it inside the bottom corner of the net.

Rene Joensen doubled Faroe’s advantage on the 38th minute. Following an excellent pass from Brandur Hendriksson, the twenty- five year old went past Steve Borg and finished inside the net.

Malta pulled one back on the 42nd minute. Schembri sent an excellent pass towards Mifsud who controlled the ball well before finishing home from close range.

Faroe scored their third goal on the 51st minute. Malta’s defenders failed to clear the ball into safety. Gunnar Vatnhamar took hold of the ball and delivered it towards Hallur Hansson. The Faroe midfielder found Malta’s defence completely disoriented and fired a shot from inside the penalty area that gave Hogg no chance.

After this goal, the Faroes were happy to control possession without giving any space to the Maltese who never managed to threaten the opposing defence. In fact, the tempo of the match slowed down as chances became scarce.

The only other opportunity was created by Faroe one minute into the additional time. Bertalsstovu delivered a cross from a free-kick that was met by Baldvinsson whose header was tipped behind by Hogg.

Malta will now face Azerbaijan on Monday. The match will be played at the National Stadium.

Faroe Islands starting line-up: Gunnar Nielsen, Gunnar Vatnhamar, Atli Gregersen, Sonni Nattestad, Viljomur Davidsen, Soelvi Vatnhamar, Rene Joensen, Hallur Hansson, Gili Rolantsson, Brandur Hendriksson, Joan Simun Edmundsson

Malta starting line-up: Andrew Hogg, Joseph Zerafa, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius, Paul Fenech, Michael Mifsud, Andre Schembri, Rowen Muscat, Joseph Mbong, Alfred Effiong, Zach Muscat

Referee: Ville Nevalainen (FIN)

Assistant Referees: Jan-Peter Aravirta, Mika Lamppu

Additional Assistant Referees: Petri Viljanen, Dennis Antamo

Fourth Official: Jukka Honkanen

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