Malta suffer a narrow defeat in Romania

A goal scored by George Puscas early in the second half made all the difference as Romania secured a narrow 1-0 win over Malta.

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

Following last Thursday’s defeat against Norway, Malta came into this match looking for a positive performance against a much better side. In fact, Romania already played Malta at Ta` Qali in June. On that day, the Romanians secured a 4-0 win.

Romania were also coming from a defeat as they lost 2-1 to Spain on Thursday. The Romanians needed a win in order to keep on fighting for a place at the final tournament.

Romania made their intentions clear from the start and had an excellent opportunity after 9 minutes. Florin Andone was played through on goal, but saw his close range effort being blocked by Henry Bonello.

Andone found the net for Romania two minutes later. However, the Galatasaray forward was in an offside position and the goal was ruled out.

Andone troubled Maltese defence a lot during the early stages of the match and was denied once more by Bonello on the 14th minute. The Romanian forward drilled a low shot from the edge of the penalty area that was saved by Malta’s goalkeeper.

Bonello was on the alert again on the 20th minute. Razvan Marin fired a powerful drive that forced a good save from the Maltese goalkeeper.

Valletta’s goalkeeper kept Romania away again on the 27th minute. Ianis Hagi hit a shot that was saved by Bonello in two attempts.

Seconds later, Puscas received a cross from the left before sending a header that sailed marginally off target.

Malta lost a great opportunity on the 28th minute. Following a mistake by Romania’s defenders, Jean Paul Farrugia squared the ball for Juan Corbalan whose close range shot was blocked by Ciprian Tatarusanu.

Two minutes later, Farrugia fired a shot from inside the penalty area that went high.

Romania hit back on the 32nd minute. Following a free-kick, Adrian Rus failed to hit the target from close range.

The Romanians created another chance on the brink of half-time. Mihai Bordeianu fired a shot from distance that ended up centimetres wide.

Romania started the second half on the offensive and broke the deadlock on the 47th minute. Hagi’s delivery from a corner was met by Puscas whose header stunned Bonello.

Malta hit back on the 65th minute. Luke Gambin’s powerful effort from distance was parried for a corner by Romania’s goalkeeper.

The Maltese players had a goal disallowed two minutes from time. Farrugia received a pass from the right and placed the ball inside the net. However, the assistant referee raised his flag as the Maltese forward was in an offside position.

Malta’s players tried to increase their efforts upfront during the latter stages; however, Romania’s slender lead was never threatened.

Romania starting line-up: Ciprian Tatarusanu, Adrian Rus, Vlad Chirches, Alexandru Chipciu, George Puscas (Claudiu Keseru-76), Ianis Hagi, Razvan Marin (Nicolae Stanciu-59), Mihai Bordeianu, Florin-Bogdan Stefan, Alexandru Cicaldau, Florin Andone

Malta starting line-up: Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius, Joseph Mbong, Jean Paul Farrugia, Kyrian Nwoko (Alfred Effiong-72), Rowen Muscat, Dunstan Vella (Jake Grech-86), Juan Corbalan, Luke Gambin (Joseph Zerafa-81), Zach Muscat

Referee: Duje Strukan (Croatia)

Assistant Referees: Goran Perica, Vedran Durak

Fourth Official: Ivan Bebek

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