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UEFA Nations League: Malta beat Andorra 3-1

UEFA Nations League: Malta beat Andorra 3-1
Shaun Dimech wheels away after scoring Malta’s third goal against Andorra on Saturday.
TA’ QALI (MALTA), NOV 14 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 11/14/2020 1:01:56 PM IST

Malta recovered from an early setback to score three goals in the second half to see off Andorra for their second successive win in the UEFA Nations League League D. 

It was a real test of character for the Maltese players who found themselves a goal behind after only three minutes of play courtesy of a firm strike by Marc Rebes.

Here, the Maltese tried to fight back but for all their efforts they were finding the going tough to create scoring opportunities and it looked as though they were set for a frustrating day in the office.

But after the break, the Maltese were handed a way back into the match when Andorra defender Garcia deflected the ball into his own net.

Here, the Maltese came to life and a minute later Jurgen Degabriele headed in front before Shaun Dimech sealed the win in stoppage time that enabled the team to all but rubberstamp second place in the group on eight points - a record tally for the national team.

Malta coach Devis Mangia was forced to watch the match from the stands as he was serving a one-ban after picking up two yellow cards in the 1-0 win over Latvia last month. Davide Mazzotta took charge of the team that featured two notable changes as Karl Micallef replaced the suspended Steve Borg while upfront Luke Montebello was the central striker in the absence of the not fully fit Kyrian Nwoko.

Malta could not have hoped for a worse start as after only three minutes poor defensive play enabled Andorra to take the lead. The Andorrans were awarded a free-kick and the Malta defenders failed to clear Joan Cervos’ delivery with the ball falling to Marc Rebes who smashed it past a stranded Henry Bonello.

The Maltese look rattled by that early setback and they finally threatened on 12 minutes when Joseph Mbong sped clear on the right and picked Montebello at the near post but the towering forward fired over.

As the minutes passed it looked like the same scenario experienced by the national team in Andorra was repeating itself as the Maltese players were finding it very difficult to create opening in the opponents defence. On 27 minutes, Teddy Teuma hit a firm drive from outside the area with the ball touching the bar before finishing over.

On 34 minutes, Teuma fed Camenzuli on the left and his cross was deflected by a defender that almost beat the Andorra goalkeeper Josep Gomes who somehow kept the ball out. The rebound fell to Luke Gambin whose shot was blocked

Two minutes later, from a Guillaumier corner-kick, Montebello headed over from close in.

On the restart, one expected Malta to step up their ante in search of an equalizer. And ten minutes into the second half, it was the Andorrans who gave Malta a way back into the match. From a corner, taken by Teuma, the ball was inadvertently deflected into his own net by Emili Garcia.

The goal transformed the Maltese team who struck again a minute later.

Luke Gambin ran in space on the right and sent a fine cross towards Jurgen Degabriele who headed past Gomes.

On 65 minutes, Matthew Guillaumier forced his way inside the area and hit a shot that was deflected just past the upright.

Andorra now had no option but to push more men forward and inevitably open more space for the Maltese forwards to grab a third goal.

On 75 minutes, Mbong raced inside the area and his cross-shot was pushed away by Gomes, the ball fell to Guillaumier whose shot was blocked by a defender.

In the final stages Andorra ramped up the pressure but it was Malta who struck a third goal in stoppage time through three of their second-half substitutes.

In a quick break, Alex Satariano released Jake Grech who burst through and his low shot was pushed away by Gomes into the path of Shaun Dimech who fired home from close win to seal a merited victory.

San Marino new record after Gibraltar draw

The UEFA Nations League hasn’t resulted in a lot of enthusiasm from most camps, but at least it does give the lesser nations a chance to play some “competitive” games where they have a chance of picking up a few wins.

The ultimate example is San Marino who have been on the receiving end of many a thumping for years now, but they’ve just done the unthinkable by going unbeaten in back to back games for the first time in their history.

It’s not exactly glamour stuff when you consider both games were goalless draws against Gibraltar and Liechtenstein, but it’s a case of baby steps here so they need to start somewhere.

They played at home to Gibraltar today so there were even a few hopes of the elusive victory, but they did well to hold on for the 0-0 after going down to ten men early in the second half for this challenge.

The next step will be to start winning some games, but they are now officially on an unbeaten run with a couple of clean sheets so the momentum is with them.

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