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Greece end Malta U-19’s dreams of top eight finish at European Championships

GREECE           8

MALTA             3

(3-2, 0-0, 3-1, 2-0)

The Malta U-19 national team were beaten by Greece in the Last 16 tie at the European Championships to see their hopes of a top eight finish end in Podgorica.

Anthony Farrugia’s boys produced a spirited display but the Greeks held too much power and in the end the Maltese conceded their second successive defeat in the competition.

The Maltese youngsters will now be involved in the positional play-offs from ninth to 12th place which get under way on Thursday.

Farrugia’s boys started the match brightly as they managed to defend very well with the Greeks struggling to breach their opponents’ defence.

On the other hand Sam Gialanze was delivering the goods for the Maltese team.

In fact, he put Malta ahead with a thunderous strike and then minutes later was at the end of a well-worked man-up set to fire the ball home.

As the minutes passed the Greeks started to find their groove and managed to score three times without reply, through Evangelos Pouros, Nikolaos Kastrinakis and Nikolaos Gkillas, to take a 3-2 lead.

One thought that the Greeks would take charge of this match here.

But the Maltese youngsters showed remarkable fight in the second session as they battled bravely to try and level the match.

They were unlucky to have a fine backhand goal from Matthew Mifsud that was annulled as play had already been stopped for foul play from the Greeks to head into the interval trailing by one, 3-2.

The Maltese youngsters managed to draw level when Alec Fenech drove the ball home from a man-up set.

But the Greeks soon restored their lead when Dimitriosu Bouzalas converted a man-up set before Semir Spachits punished some lax defending from the Maltese to make it 5-3.

Any hope of a Malta comeback was ended by Nikolaos Gkillas who grabbed the sixth goal for the Greeks just before the end of the third session.

The final eight minutes of the match saw the Maltese trying in vain to bridge the gap.

But the Greeks were always in control and managed to add two more goals through Pouros, one of which from a man-up set, to secure the win.

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