(5-2, 4-3, 2-0, 8-0)
True to the tune that greeted the final buzzer of the match “Take me home to the place where I belong!”, Malta has made the European Championship finals their home after clinching a place amongst the top echelons of the continental waterpolo for the fourth consecutive time.
That is not to say that yesterday’s match was a foregone conclusion as the sporting hostilities between Malta and Lithuania started on an even keel in the opening two sessions.
But after that, the locals raised their game immeasurably to their opponents in no uncertain way.
With two qualifying places up for grabs from the four-team pool, Saturday’s tie between Malta and Lithuania turned out to be a decider for whom will join Romania in the European Championships finals which will be held in Split, Croatia this summer.
Matthew Zammit and Jake Muscat were again the leading scorers for Malta with five goals.
Malta went behind early in the game but goals from Ben Plumpton, Matthew Zammit and Jake Muscat, on extra man ups, put Malta 5-2 up at the end of the first session.
At one point in the second session, Malta opened a five-goal buffer.
Malta’s advantage was mainly brought about by goals from Plumpton, Muscat and Zammit.
However, the Lithuanians hit back strongly to halve the deficit. But Jeremy Abela made it 9-5 with 22 seconds left on the clock.
Malta scored twice in succession as the third quarter got underway and controlled the rest of the session.
Izzo’s men hit the crossbar three times and Matthew Zammit was denied a goal when his shot bounced over the imaginary line, but the Slovenian referee was unmoved by the Maltese protests.
The Maltese showed their true class in the last session when they scored eight times without reply.
It was arguably the best fare Malta put up.
Shot efficiency and clinical finishing on the break could not be matched by the visitors.
The Maltese grew taller as goals from Dino Zammit, Matthew Zammit (3), Muscat (2) Andreas Galea and Abela sealed the issue.
Malta will play Romania on Sunday morning for top spot in Group C.
N.Grixti, J.Muscat 5 , A. Galea 1, J. Gambin 1, Darren Zammit, M. Zammit 5, B. Plumpton 2, J. Camilleri, J. Abela 2, N. Zammit 1 , Z. Mizzi , Dino Zammit 2, J. Tanti.
S. Motuzas, K. Blazevic, D. Tomasevski 2, J. Gostautas 1, R. Jakutis, P. Vadvilavicius, A. Jonkus 1, M. Pelakauskas, G. Zurza, J. Galinok 1, E. Pumputis, D. Vitkauskas, J. Balcikonis.
Refs: T. Kavcic (Slovenia), L. Krol ( Poland).
Romania vs Ireland 41-5