Kilicsoy 15, 78 ; Acar 31, 90
Guler 37, 57
After an absence of one year, the Malta Under-17s were back in action in a UEFA tournament, after the previous year the Championship was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was a tough opening match for the Maltese youngsters, against a Turkey side with plenty of talent.
After a difficult opening half, Malta showed better cohesion after the break, resulting in some promising attacks.
However, the Turkish win was deserved beyond doubt, as they were much stronger and are perhaps the favourites to win this qualification group.
In the first half, the Maltese found it hard to find their way forward, with constant pressure of the visitors.
During the first 12 minutes, Turkey came already close to open the score twice, but Batuhan Celik’s header from a corner action and Emir Bars’ shot after a fast attack, both missed target.
However, in the 15th minute, Semih Kilicsoy, undoubtedly one of Turkey’s best players, opened the score for the Turks with a grounder from close range.
The same Kilicsoy brought the best out of Malta goalkeeper Dominic Vella on 24 minutes with another close-range attempt.
On 31 minutes, Turkey doubled the score thanks to FC Tirol forward Emirhan Acar, who initially hit the post but beat Vella in the far corner from the rebound. Six minutes later, Arda Guler added goal number three with an angled shot from the edge of the box.
Maltese attempts to venture forward were generally neutralised in midfield, while before the half-time whistle, Turkey went close on another two occasions, but attempts from Kilicsoy and Celik were both denied.
Malta started the second half brightly with some good moves between the forwards Ensell Attard, Zak Barbara and substitute Kian Leonardi, which kept the rear-guard of the visitors on the alert. However, in the 57th minute, the unmarked Guler added Turkey’s goal number four from close range, thanks to some excellent work from Muhammet Arikan on the left wing.
Just after the hour, Kilicsoy came close again with an individual effort but Vella turned his attempt into a corner.
On 67 minutes, Barbara pulled one back for the hosts after some good work by Myron Micallef.
The San Gwann substitute released Leonardi, who passed accurately to Barbara, whose shot was slightly deflected by Turkish centre back Hasan Kayali.
This was during a period when Malta showed more determination to move forward.
But Turkey restored their four-goal lead on 78 minutes when Kilicsoy headed in a corner from Guler at the first post.
Two minutes into added time, Acar added his second and Turkey’s sixth goal after a attack on the left, beating Vella with a grounder.
Malta is now playing Denmark on Saturday, followed by a match against Montenegro. Both matches kick off at 16h at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.
Malta: Dominic Vella, Kian Vella (Josiah Mallia 80), Jayden Ohaka (Myron Micallef 46), Sven Xerri, Ivin Farrugia (Andrew Apap-Bologna 80), Isaiah Chukunyere, Lucas Caruana, Kaiden Fenech (Timothy Cachia 68), Ensell Attard, Zak Barbara, Russell Caruana (Kian Leonardi 46).
Turkey: Mert Bayram, Ali Bulbul, Efe Koyuncu (Arda Kirgil 63), Hasan Kayali, Muhammet Arikan (Can Uzun 63), Furkan Yontem (Kenan Yildiz 46), Emir Bars (Emirhan Kayar 63), Emirhan Acar, Arda Guler, Semih Kilicsoy (Selim Sonmez 91), Batuhan Celik
Referee: Robertas Valikonis (Lithuania)
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