Morata’s brace sinks brave Malta

Alvaro Morata scored a goal in each half to hand Spain a 2-0 win over Malta.

Photo: Dominic Borg
Photo: Dominic Borg

Malta faced Spain on 7 different occasions prior to this match. Spain have a 100 percent record as they won all encounters and managed to register some big results along the way.

These include an 8-0 triumph in the first ever encounter in 1963 and a 12-1 win in 1983.

The previous match between the two sides took place in 1997. On that day, Spain won 4-0.

Ray Farrugia made three changes to the side that defeated Faroe Islands on Saturday. John Mintoff, Joseph Zerafa and Zach Muscat replaced Rowen Muscat, Michael Mifsud, and the suspended Andrei Agius.

Spain took control of the match from the first minute. However, they were finding an organised side in front of them.

The Spanish threatened Malta for the first time after 16 minutes. Saul Niguez fired a shot from distance that failed to hit the target.

Saul lost a great chance for Spain two minutes later. Sergi Roberto squared the ball for the Atletico player who fired over from close range.

Spain created another chance on the 29th minute. Saul’s cross was met by Morata whose effort was neutralised by Henry Bonello.

Morata only waited two more minutes in order to break the deadlock for Spain. Following a long ball from Sergio Ramos, the twenty-six year old forward drilled a low shot past Bonello.

Spain kept on insisting and had another promising chance on the 39th minute. From a free-kick, Marco Asensio saw his effort going high.

This was the last chance of the first half as it finished 1-0 in favour of Spain.

Spain started the second half on the offensive and threatened Bonello on the 58th minute. Sergi Roberto’s delivery went into the path of Morata whose header ended up off target.

Bonello was on the alert a minute later. Asensio hit a low shot from inside the penalty area that was saved by Valletta’s goalkeeper.

Malta’s custodian denied Asensio once more on the 61st minute. The Real Madrid midfielder received the ball inside the penalty area from Sergi Roberto before firing a shot that was blocked by Bonello.

Spain sealed the issue on the 73rd minute. Jesus Navas delivered a cross towards the Atletico Madrid forward whose header gave Bonello no chance.

Three minutes later, Sergio Ramos fired a powerful drive from distance that was parried by Bonello.

Spain nearly added another on the 86th minute. Sergi Roberto served Segio Canales and the latter fired a shot that sailed off target.

Bonello kept Spain away again during the additional time as he showed great reflexes to deny Asensio.

Malta starting line-up: Henry Bonello, Jonathan Caruana (Karl Micallef-85), Steve Borg, Matthew Guillaumier, Joseph Mbong (Rowen Muscat-65), Paul Fenech, Kyrian Nwoko, Juan Corbolan, John Mintoff (Michael Mifsud- 67), Joseph Zerafa, Zach Muscat

Spain starting line-up: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Jose Gaya, Saul Niguez (Jesus Navas-65), Alvaro Morata (Rodrigo-78), Marco Asensio, Sergio Canales, Mario Hermoso, Juan Bernat (Iker Muniain- 56), Sergio Romas, Rodri, Sergio Roberto

Referee: Andrew Dallas (Scotland)

Assistant Referees: Francis Connor, Daniel McFarlane

Fourth Official: Kevin Clancy

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