Norway condemns Malta to 2-0 defeat with first-half goals

Malta conceded two goals during the first that condemned them to a 2-0 defeat in Oslo.

Photo: Domenic Aquilina / MFA
Photo: Domenic Aquilina / MFA

Malta conceded two goals during the first half that condemned them the national team to a 2-0 defeat in Oslo at the hands of Norway.

The Maltese national team was still reeling from two negative results in their previous encounters where it suffered a 4-0 defeat against Romania and a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Sweden.

This was another difficult match against a side which had to win at all costs if they are to stand a chance of qualifying for the final tournament. In fact, Norway started the match fourth in the group ahead of Malta and Faroe Islands.

Malta at the moment are second from bottom following their win over Faroe Islands in the opening match of the group. The Faroes are bottom as they are still to collect their first points in the group.

As expected, Norway took hold of possession from the very first minute. However, the Maltese defended bravely and kept the Norwegians away for a long time.

Norway created the first chance on goal after 25 minutes. Following a corner from the right, Even Hovland headed the ball wide.

Malta replied on the 29th minute. Andrei Agius fired a volley from inside the penalty area that sailed off target.

A minute later, Joshua King of Norway drilled a low shot that was neutralised by Bonello.

Norway increased their efforts and forged ahead on the 33rd minute. Following a throw-in, Hovland directed the ball towards Sander Berge and the latter headed the ball past Henry Bonello.

The post denied Norway from adding another goal on the 41st minute. Stefan Johansen fired a thumping shot from distance that was tipped towards the upright by Bonello.

Norway doubled their advantage one minute prior to half-time. Kyrian Nwoko fouled Hovland inside the penalty area and the referee pointed towards the spot. King stepped up and converted.

The hosts started the second half where they left off the first and threatened Malta on the 46th minute. Johansen delivered a cross towards the unmarked Martin Odegaard whose header was pushed away by Bonello.

However, the Maltese players were never under any real threat through-out the vast majority of the remaining minutes.

In fact, Norway’s next chance on goal was created on the 83rd minute. Tarik Elyounoussi’s shot from inside the penalty area ended up centimetres wide.

Malta created an opportunity on the 88th minute. Joseph Mbong made space for himself down the left flank before sending a cross that was met by Jean Paul Farrugia whose header landed on the top of the net.

Odegaard went close for Norway during the additional time given by the referee. The youngster hit a low shot that sailed wide.

Malta starting line-up: Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius, Jake Grech (Alfred Efffiong- 76), Joseph Mbong, Paul Fenech (Jean Paul Farrugia- 64), Kyrian Nwoko, Rowen Muscat, Dunstan Vella, Juan Corbalan, Zach Muscat (Ferdinando Apap-20)

Norway starting line-up: Rune Jarstain, Haitaam Aleesami, Even Hovland, Havard Nordveit, Joshua King (Bjorn Johnsen-58), Stefan Johansen (Mathias Normann-75), Omar Ellabdellaoui, Sander Berge, Ole Sellnaeas, Martin Odegaard, Erling Haland (Tarik Elyounoussi – 66)

Referee: Dumitri Muntean (Moldova)

Assistant Referees: Vlad Lifciu, Andrei Bodean

Fourth Official: Vaeceslav Banari

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