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Malta cancel two-goal deficit to hold Cyprus draw

Malta U-21 captain Andrea Zammit takes on his marker in an international friendly against Cyprus. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

MALTA U-21                 2

Veselji 43

Zammit 61

CYPRUS U-21                2

Koutsakos 7, 11

MALTA M. Debono; Z. Leonardi, K. Briffa, M. Veselji (87 J. Carbone), A. Zammit (78 I. Ebejer), A. Garzia, K. Mohnani, I. Cutajar (46 N. Micallef), D. Mifsud (55 J, Engerer), N. Agius (55 M. Debattista), K. Bondin.

CYPRUS S. Kittos (46 M. Kyrakiou); F. Kotsonis, S. Gavriel (46 E. Andreaou), I. Kostis, G. Okkas (60 G. Pavlides), G. Satias (60 A. Zefki), A. Foti (60 D. Mavroudis), N. Koutsakos (78 M. Jovanovic), F. Eftychides (46 G. Pontikou), I. Christodoulou (78 G. Vasiliou), E. Antoniou (78 N. Hadjimitis).

Referee Philip Farrugia.

Yellow cards Veselji.

The Malta U-21 selection showed a lot of personality as they cancelled a two-goal deficit to record a 2-2 draw with Cyprus in an international friendly at the Centenary Stadium.

An early blitz from the Cypriot side saw them open a two-goal advantage inside the opening 11 minutes.

It seemed as if Cyprus were heading to a comfortable win but the Maltese side kept their cool and managed to cancel the two-goal deficit through goals from Mattia Veselji and Andrea Zammit.

An encouraging result that bodes well for the future of this selection as the U-21s usher into a new era as there were several new faces picked up by coach Agius following the recent European qualifications.

On the other hand, Cyprus are also at the back of their European Championship qualifications where they recorded 11 points and finished 5th in the six-team group.

The Cypriot selection, coached by Ioannis Okkas, had several Cyprus-based players including Nicolas Koutsakos who scored both goals.

Cyprus came close to forging ahead when Georgios Okkas fired over the bar from the penalty area. Moments later though, Cyprus broke the deadlock through Koutsakos who beat Matthias Debono from close-range.

The Cypriots doubled their lead when Koutsakos, who was his team’s main attacking threat, fired into the far net from the edge of the area.

As the half wore on, the Maltese side started to stage a reaction and captain Zammit came close to pulling one back for the hosts but his well-weighted freekick was diverted into a corner by goalkeeper Stefanos Kittos.

The Valletta forward tried his luck again when he made his way into the box before his low drive was once again deflected out for another corner situation.

On the brink of half-time, Malta produced a goal from a well-organised build-up play finished by Veselji whose shot went behind Kittos.

After the change of ends, with Malta affecting one change in Nikolai Micallef instead of Isaac Cutajar, Cyprus immediately had an effort off target through two-time scorer Koutsakos.

Nonetheless, it was Malta who scored the game’s next goal as they levelled terms through Zammit who capitalised on a Jake Engerer’s cross.

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