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Mifsud scores in final appearance as Malta beat Liechtenstein

Michael Mifsud is lifted by his team-mates after scoring Malta's opener against Liechtenstein. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

MALTA            3

Mifsud 5

Borg 19

Farrugia 83 pen.

LIECHTENSTEIN            0

Malta

J. Galea, J. Borg (28 K. Micallef), N. Tabone, S. Borg (76 K. Shaw), J. Grech (76 J. Busuttil), M. Mifsud (59 A. Satariano), S. Pisani (59 R. Muscat), J. Corbalan, B. Kristensen, S. Dimech (76 J.P. Farrugia), T. Caruana.

Liechtenstein

T. Hobi, D. Brandle, M. Goppel, A. Malin, R. Kardesoglu, A. Sele (69 P. Ospelt), M. Buchel (86 A. Marxser), S. Yildiz, F. Wolfinger (69 N. Graber), N. Hasler, S. Wolfinger (76 A. Netzer).

Referee: Manfredas Lukjancukas (Lithuania FA).

Yellow cards: Kardesoglu, Caruana, Sele.

Michael Mifsud enjoyed a fairytale ending to his international career as the veteran striker added to his impressive tally of goals to inspire Malta to a comfortable victory over Liechtenstein.

In fact, Mifsud took just five minutes to fire home a record 42nd goal for the national team with a clinical finish to end an extraordinary career with the Maltese colours in style.

Mifsud’s opener was the perfect tonic needed by the Maltese players as from then on, they easily administered proceedings against a depleted Liechtenstein side to record their second successive win and more impressively bag their fifth successive positive result.

Although, the Maltese team failed to set houses on fire yesterday, however, Mangia will be encouraged by the authority shown by the hosts as they bossed the proceedings throughout the 90 minutes giving little opportunities to Liechtenstein to cause any danger.

Now, the Maltese clan will turn their sights on Saturday’s UEFA Nations League match against Andorra where a win could keep the team in the running to challenge the Faroe Islands for top spot when the two teams meet on Tuesday.

Prior to kick-off, MFA president Bjorn Vassallo presented a memento Michael Mifsud who was making his 143rd and final appearance for the national team.

Mifsud was handed once more the captain’s armband by coach Devis Mangia was back on the bench after he completed his mandatory quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Italian coach once again fielded several players who are on the fringes of the national team to give them an opportunity to stake a claim for a place in the squad for the upcoming UEFA Nations League matches against Andorra and the Faroe Islands.

On their part, Liechtenstein, who had several player missing due to COVID-19, fielded several young players in their starting XI.

Among the players in their starting formation was a familiar face to Maltese football, wingback Daniel Brandle who a few seasons ago was on the books of St Andrews.

Mifsud took just four minutes to further underline his legendary status when putting the national team ahead.

From a Liechtenstein throw-in, Bjorn Kristensen managed to steal possession and quickly released Mifsud who showed his predatory instincts to fire past Thomas Hobi, the Liechtenstein goalkeeper.

That early goal helped the hosts to settle down nicely as they continued to dominate the proceedings with Liechtenstein struggling to make any inroads in the Malta defence.

Things got even better for Malta on 19 minutes when they were awarded a free-kick on the right channel and Jake Grech’s inswinger was met by Steve Borg who headed past Hobi to double his team’s lead.

Liechtenstein finally threatened on 25 minutes when Ridvan Kardesoglu broke clear, but his angled drive finished just past the upright.

On 27 minutes Mangia was forced to make his first change as Jean Borg limped out injured and was replaced by Karl Micallef.

The match continued to be played at a low rhythm with Malta always in command but scoring chances remained few and far between.

After the break, the match continued to be played on a low tempo with Liechtenstein coming close on 56 minutes when the Malta failed to clear the ball from a free-kick action and Nicolas Hasler saw his deflected shot finish just wide.

On the hour, Mifsud’s participation came to an end when he was replaced by Alex Satariano, with the veteran forward showered by a warm applause by those present on his way to the bench.

Mifsud handed the captain’s armband to Juan Corbalan in a gesture of solidarity to his family after the young wingback’s father Miguel is critically ill in hospital.

The national team continued to dictate matters with the hard-working midfield trio of Bjorn Kristensen, Jake Grech and Rowen Muscat holding the edge and trying to create openings in the Liechtenstein defence but with scant rewards.

Twelve minutes from time, goalkeeper Jake Galea was almost punished for being out of his goal but Max Goppel’s audacious chip from halfway line finished over the bar.

But it was Malta who added a third when substitute Jean Paul Farrugia’s run towards the area was halted by the arm of Brandle, with the referee pointing to the spot, albeit TV pictures showed that the infringement happened outside the area.

From the spot, it was the same Farrugia who sent Hosi the wrong way to wrap up a very positive day for the Malta national team.

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