Malta suffer an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Kosovo

In a match characterised by defensive mistakes, Malta suffered a 5-0 defeat against Kosovo.

Malta's starting line-up. Photo: Dominic Borg
Malta's starting line-up. Photo: Dominic Borg

Following two consecutive draws against Azerbaijan, Malta came into this match looking to win points against a strong Kosovo side.

Prior to this match, Malta had only faced Kosovo one time in a match that was played on the 11th of October at the Pristina stadium in Kosovo. On that day, Malta were defeated 3-1. Veteran defender Andrei Agius scored Malta’s goal.

A major concern for Malta was the suspension of Agius and Steve Borg. Both defenders were suspended as they picked up their second yellow card in the previous match against Azerbaijan. They were replaced by Jonathan Caruana and Zach Muscat.

Kosovo made their intentions clear from the start and nearly forged ahead after just three minutes. Milot Rashica’s cross from the right was met by Vedat Muriqi whose header went slightly off target.

Two minutes later, Hekural Kryeziu sent a diagonal shot from the edge of the penalty area that hit the side netting.

Joseph Mbong gifted Kosovo the opening goal of the match on the 16th minute. The young defender played a horrific pass backwards that was intercepted by Milot Rashica.  Bremen’s midfielder played Muriqi through and the latter placed the ball past Andrew Hogg from close range.

On the 23rd minute, Valon Berisha played Arber Zeneli through on the right, but the Kosovar midfielder saw his shot ending up marginally wide.

Berisha lost a great opportunity for Kosovo on the 35th minute. Lazio’s midfielder received the ball inside the penalty area from Zeneli and finished over.

Four minutes later, Berisha received the ball inside the penalty area and hit a low shot that was parried by Hogg.

During the remaining minutes, Kosovo remained superior, while Malta defended as the first half ended 1-0 in favour of the away side.

Malta made a good start to the second half and threatened Kosovo on the 50th minute. Roderick Briffa’s effort from outside the penalty area took a deflection off a defender and went out for a corner.

Kosovo doubled their advantage through another horrific mistake on the 69th minute.  Zach Muscat and Ryan Camilleri collided together as both of them attempted to clear the ball.  The ball fell for Benjamin Kololli who lobbed the ball behind Hogg.

 Donis Avdijaj sealed the issue for Kosovo on the 78th minute. Muriqi went on an excellent run down the right flank before delivering the ball towards the substitute who slotted the ball inside the net.

Avidajaj scored again two minutes later. Rashica rushed forward down the right flank and drilled a low cross towards Willem’s forward whose close range effort gave Hogg no chance.

Malta finally hit back on the 82nd minute. Luke Gambin’s shot from the edge of the penalty area was saved by Samir Ujkani.

Kosovo added more misery on Malta on the 86th minute as they scored their fifth goal. Rashica hit a shot from outside the penalty area that stamped off the post and ended up inside the net.

Kosovo controlled possession in the remaining few minutes as they collected the three points in style.

Following this result, Malta remained at the bottom of the table with two points. On the other hand, Kosovo consolidated their place at the top of the table.

Malta starting line-up: Andrew Hogg, Jonathan Caruana, Joseph Zerafa, Joseph Mbong, Luke Gambin, Andre` Schembri, Rowen Muscat, Juan Corbalan, Ryan Camilleri, Roderick Briffa, Zach Muscat

Kosovo starting line-up: Samir Ujkani, Faidan Aliti, Herolind Shala, Hekuran Kryeziu, Milot Rashica, Arber Zeneli, Amir Rrahmani, Valon Berihsa, Mergim Vojvoda, Benjamin Kolloli, Vedat Muriqi

Referee: Batosz Frankowski (Poland)

Assistant Referees: Marcin Boniek, Dawid Igor Golis

Additional Assistant Referees: Daniel Stefanaski, Krzystof Jabukik

Fourth Official: Adam Kupsik

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