S. Gomez 23; A. Ruiz 25, 88
H. Guillamon 40; J. Lobete 50
C. Formosa; C. Gauci (82 A. Bradshaw), M. Grima, A. Attard (74 G. Sciberras), A. Vella, A. Garzia (74 K. Mohnani), J. Ghio (46 J. Carbone), C. Zammit Lonardelli, M. Ellul, B. Sciberras (74 J. Sixsmith), J. Engerer.
J. Astulez (74 J. Garcia); H. Guillamon, A. Frances (46 J. Manuel Mondragon), U. Paris (55 J. Amado), G.Campos-Anso, O. Sancet, A. Ruiz, S. Vilarino, B. Turrientes (61 S. Camello), S. Gomez (46 J. Lobete), M. Sanchez.
Referee Dario Bel (Croatia).
Yellow cards Ghio, Garzia.
The Malta U-21 national team found the going tough against Spain as they succumbed to a heavy defeat in their fifth outing of their European qualifications campaign.
Spain, runners up in this year’s finals, opened a three-goal lead in the first half before adding a fourth in the second 45 minutes.
Gilbert Agius’ team remain bottom of the group with three points, together with Lithuania whereas Spain lead with 15 points.
Malta return to action on Tuesday when they face Northern Ireland, away from home.
As expected, Spain made their intentions clear from the start as they dictated proceedings with their possession-based football and slick passing.
After 10 minutes, Malta goalkeeper Cain Formosa came to the rescue for Agius’ side when he denied Abel Ruiz from close-range.
Ruiz, who was captaining Spain, thought he had put his nation ahead when he fired home from inside the area only to see his goal disallowed for offside.
Midfielder Oihan Sancert tried his luck with another shot which was once again blocked by Formosa.
The San Ġwann goalkeeper continued to keep Spain at bay when he denied Ruiz after the latter connected with a header from a corner-kick situation.
However, he could do nothing when Sergio Gomez, who has three goals with Anderlecht this season, struck a well-taken shot that stunned the Maltese goalkeeper.
Moments later, Ruiz pounced on a Formosa’s mistake to slot the ball into an empty net.
Malta’s only chance of the first half dropped onto the feet of Jake Engerer who fired over the bar from long-range.
Spain had a Sancet first-timer that went wide before Hugo Guillamon headed home to help Luis de la Fuente’s team open a three-goal lead at half-time.
At the restart, Formosa was immediately tested when Gaspar Campos-Anso tried his luck with a shot but the Malta goalkeeper well placed.
Nonetheless, Spain found a fourth through substitute Julen Lobete who lobbed the ball over the onrushing Formosa.
As the half wore on, both teams started to introduce new faces on the field as the tempo of the game started to decline with Spain adding a fifth late on when Abel Ruiz fired home with a volley.