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Watch: Malta U-21 punished by sharper Finland

MALTA            0

FINLAND         1

Kallman 18

MALTA

R. Al-Tumi, G. Camilleri (8 M. Ellul), C. Zammit Lonardelli, N. Pulis, Z. Grech, J. Busuttil (74 J. Scicluna), M. Grima, J. Zerafa (74 D. Xuereb), M. Beerman, O. Elouni (74 A. Zammit), A. Friggieri.

FINLAND

V. Sinisalo, M. Haukioja, M. Vainionpaa, A. Halme, R. Tihi, L. Lingman, N. Skytta (87 E. Vertainen), N. Maenpaa (70 M. Virtanen), J. Assenhnoun (79 E. Banza), B. Kallman, T. Stavitski (87 T. Fagerstrom).

Referee Nikola Popov (Bulgaria).

Yellow cards Lingman, Friggieri.

The Malta U-21 national team ended their commitments in the UEFA qualifiers when they lost to Finland at the Centenary Stadium.

A Benjamin Kallman goal after only 18 minutes of play was enough for the Scandinavians to bag maximum points in a match of two halves.

In fact, the first 45 minutes saw Finland enjoy the upperhand as the Maltese youngsters were guilty of some sloppy play and poor distribution of the ball.

Benjamin Kallman scores Finland’s winner against Malta.

But after the break, the Maltese stepped up their ante and started to pressure their opponents high up the pitch and could have easily snatched a point had they taken the chances that came their way.

But in the end, the team slumped to their ninth successive defeat to finish bottom of Group 8 with just one point to show.

Malta coach Silvio Vella made one change from the team that lost 4-1 to Ukraine as Marcus Grima was preferred to Ayrton Attard.

The Maltese struggled for some form of fluency in their game as they were guilty of sloppy passing which on more than one occasion ended up to opening the way for the visitors to create dangerous attacking situations.

After ten minutes of play the Finns were awarded a free-kick and Jasin Assehnoun’s delivery caused havoc in the Malta defence but Martti Haukioja incredibly failed to make contact with the ball in front of a gaping goal.

Jamie Scicluna comes closer to grab a dramatic equaliser for Malta U-21.

Six minutes later, the Finns were again close from another set-piece when from a Lucas Lingman corner kick, Assehnoun’s backheel was deflected just wide.

The visitors found the breakthrough at the third time of asking from the ensuing flag kick when Benjamin Kallman headed firmly past Rashed Al-Tumi.

The Maltese players failed to put on a response and a sloppy piece of play from Myles Beerman almost caused the damage when from a throw in the Sliema winger directed the ball straight at Kallman who sprinted towards the area but his angled drive flashed wide.

Malta finally threatened just past the half hour when Aidan Friggieri sent a fine throughball towards Omar Elouni but goalkeeper Anatolii Trubin charged out of his goal to clear the danger.

On the restart, the Maltese showed vast improvement as they started to press high their opponents.

On 48 minutes Elouni went close but his shot finished wide.

Chances remained few and far between after the break even and we had to wait until the 70th minute for the next scoring opportunity.

Martti Haukioja made inroads on the left and his low cross found Kallman unmarked but luckily for the hosts the Finland forward failed to touch the ball.

Thirteen minutes from time, substitute James Scicluna seized possession in midfield and embarked on a surging run that took him inside the area but instead of serving the unmarked Aidan Friggieri he elected to shoot but his effort lacked the necessary power.

A defensive mix-up from the Malta backline almost regaled Finland a second goal but luckily Enoch Banza failed to find the target.

In stoppage time, Malta almost snatched a dramatic equalizer with virtually the last kick of the match when Zachary Grech sent a low cross towards Scicluna who flicked the ball just past the upright as Finland held on for the win.

Standings provided by SofaScore LiveScore

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