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Malta suffer another defensive collapse as Slovakia run riot

Slovakia hit Malta for six in a World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

MALTA             0

SLOVAKIA        6

Rusnak 6, 16

Duda 8, 69, 80

De Marco 72

MALTA

H. Bonello, K. Shaw, R. Camenzuli, M. Guillaumier (85 T. Caruana), J. Mbong (85 S. Dimech), P. Mbong (54 B. Kristensen), J. Borg (78 K. Micallef), A. Satariano (54 L. Montebello), C. Attard, T. Teuma, Z. Muscat.

SLOVAKIA

M. Dubravka, L. Satka, L. Haraslin (61 R. Mak), O. Duda, A. Rusnak, T. Suslov, M. Skriniar, M. Koscelnik (77 R. Bozenik), D. Hancko (70 V. De Marco), D. Strelec (61 L. Almasi), S. Lobotka (70 S. Lobotka).

Referee Fran Jovic (Croatia).

Yellow cards Satariano, Camenzuli.

Red card: Camenzuli (M) 47; Teuma (M) 50.

The Malta national team endured another torrid afternoon as they succumbed to a heavy defeat to Slovakia in their final World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium.

After Thursday’s disastrous 7-1 defeat to Croatia there was hope that the Malta national team players would produce a strong reaction to try and complete the qualifying campaign on a positive note, particularly as the team were still with a chance of finishing bottom of the group and amassing a record haul of points in qualifying.

However, any hope from the hope side were extinguished inside the first 16 minutes when the Slovakians surged into a three-goal lead and from then on there was no way back for Devis Mangia’s team.

In fact, the Slovakians continued to toil around the Maltese and their cause was further made easier when the home side had two players, Ryan Camenzuli and Teddy Teuma, sent off in the opening stages of the second half, and the Slovakians took full advantage to add three more goals to pile up more misery on the Maltese team.

It was certainly a disappointing end to what was for long spells an encouraging qualifying campaign for the national team but the performances of the team in their final three matches left their toll as for yet another campaign we finish bottom of the group.

It is hoped that coach Mangia and his technical staff will use the next few months to analyse what went wrong in the second part of the qualifying campaign as no doubt there are a lot of positives to take but the team’s collapse in recent months certainly is a cause of concern for the future.

Mangia effected five changes to the team that was thrashed 7-1 by Croatia in midweek.

Jean Borg and Zach Muscat were given the nod to start in a three-man defence alongside Kurt Shaw in the absence of the suspended Enrico Pepe and Andrei Agius, who dropped to the bench.

In midfield, Matthew Guillaumier was back in the starting formation at the expense of Bjorn Kristensen while Paul Mbong was preferred to Jurgen Degabriele.

Alex Satariano spearheaded Malta’s forward line ahead of Luke Montebello who was included among the substitutes.

Malta made a bright start to the match and after five minutes of play they protested for a penalty when Teddy Teuma played in Paul Mbong who pulled the ball back into the path of Satariano who fell under the challenge of Milan Skriniar but the referee waved play on and booked the Malta forward for protests.

However, it was Slovakia who took the lead on six minutes when Tomas Suslov picked David Strelec inside the area who chested the ball into the path of Albert Rusnak who fired home.

The goal hit hard the Maltese players who hardly had time to recover before finding themselves two goals behind.

Suslov made space for himself on the right and sent a cross towards Ondrej Duda who headed firmly past Bonello.

More woes followed for the national team as on 16 minutes the Slovakians added a third goal.

Matthew Guillaumier was dispossessed in midfield with the ball falling to Rusnak who beat Bonello with a curling drive.

With three goals to the good, the Slovakians were completely dominant with the Maltese having rarely a sniff at their opponents half.

Bonello came to Malta’s rescue on the half hour when he showed great reflexes to keep out Lukas Haraslin’s shot.

Malta’s first shot at goal arrived on 38 minutes when Teuma hit a rasping volley from the edge of the area that rolled just past the upright.

Things got worse for Malta in the first minutes of the second half when they had two players sent off. First Camenzuli, who was booked in the final stages of the first half, was shown a second yellow card and was dismissed.

Then, Teuma was booked for a foul on the edge of the area and seconds later the Malta midfielder was handed a second yellow card for kicking the ball away to be dismissed and leave the hosts with nine players.

On 55 minutes, Bonello effected two brilliant reflex saves to save his team from further damage.

He first kept out Duda’s shot and then he recovered quickly to punch away Haraslin’s effort from the rebound.

The Malta goalkeeper again came to the team’s rescue on the hour when he charged out of his goal to block David Hancko’s effort from close in.

However, there was nothing the Malta goalkeeper could do on 67 minutes when Rusnak sped past Zach Muscat and sent a low cross towards Duda who easily stabbed the ball past Bonello.

Despite being four goals ahead, the Slovakians continued to press on the accelerator and added a fifth goal on 72 minutes when Duda sent a low cross into the path of substitute Vernon De Marco, who had just come on the pitch, who fired a rasping low drive that nestled into the net.

Slovakia wrapped up their win ten minutes from time when Suslak sped past his marker on the left and sent a low cross towards Duda who fired home and complete his hat-trick.

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