LITHUANIA U-21 2
Kalinauskas 56 pen.
MALTA U-21 1
LITHUANIA: K. Urbietis; V. Paulauskas, V. Armalas, N. Zebrauskas, D. Jansonas, M. Ramanauskas (68 K. Zebrauskas), K. Uzela, T. Milasius (78 B. Anisas), T. Kalinauskas (78 V. Piliukaitis), A. Dolznikov (46 N. Petkevicius), A. Klimavicius (68 D. Zubauskas).
MALTA: C. Formosa; M. Ellul, C. Gauci, C. Zammit Lonardelli, A. Garzia (55 K. Mohnani), M. Grima, A. Attard (87 L. Vella), A. Vella, J. Engerer (78 J. Carbone), M. Veselji (78 V. Degiorgio), B. Sciberras (78 J. Sixsmith).
Referee Marcel Birsan (Romania FA).
Yellow cards Engerer, Paulauskas, Grima.
The Malta U-21’s national team fell to the second straight defeat in their European qualifiers after losing 2-1 to Lithuania.
The Baltic team opened the score from a direct freekick in the closing stages of the first half before wrapping up the win with a penalty, early in the second 45 minutes.
Deep in stoppage time, Jamie Sixsmith pulled one back for Malta but it was too late for the Maltese side to rescue at least a point from this game.
Led by Gilbert Agius, Malta remain with three points after three outings with Lithuania joining them with the same tally of points.
Lithuania, coached by former Serie A player Marius Stankevicius, started to dictate proceedings from the initial stages of the game while Malta opted for a more cautious approach, waiting to pounce on a mistake and catch their opponents on the break.
Despite seeing more of the ball, Lithuania failed to threaten goalkeeper Cain Formosa with just captain Karolis Uzela trying his luck from long-range just to see his effort go in vain.
On the other hand, Malta’s first attempt came through midfielder Marcus Grima but his direct freekick sailed over the bar.
Lithuania skipper Uzela was once again protagonist for his team with another strike from outside the penalty box but failed to hit the target.
The hosts did not speed up their intensity, allowing the Maltese team to organise itself whenever they needed to keep Lithuania at bay.
On the half-hour mark, Lithuania forward Augustinas Klimavicius looked to break the deadlock himself but his curling effort went wide past Formosa’s goal.
Uzela, who played with Italy’s SPAL at U-19’s level, came close to putting Lithuania ahead when his overhead kick from inside the penalty area went inches wide as the Baltic team was looking to make its pressure count.
A Matas Ramanauskas shot from the edge of the area was smothered by Malta’s custodian Formosa as the stalemate prevailed in the first half.
However, Lithuania did manage to draw first blood when Titas Milasius surprised Formosa with a low-freekick on the first post to score his team’s second goal in this group in three games.
Just before the break, Lithuania had a goal disallowed when Formosa blocked temporarily a Dovydas Jansonas’ shot with the rebound dropping onto the feet of Vilius Armalas who slotted the ball into the net just to be ruled out for an offside position.
At the restart, Klimavicius threatened Malta with a towering header from a freekick but Formosa was alert to avert the danger.
On the 54th minute, Lithuania were awarded a penalty when Alejandro Garzia tripped Tomas Kalinauskas with the latter converting from the penalty spot to put his team further ahead.
Substitute Naris Petkevicius almost found a third for Lithuania but his close-range strike was blocked by Formosa.
As the half wore on, Malta tried to stage up a reaction with coach Agius deploying forward Victor Degiorgio, who plays in the United States, and Jamie Carbone.
However, Lithuania’s backline proved a tough nut to crack until one minute from the end when substitute Jamie Sixsmith hit a strike from the edge of the area to reduce the deficit. However, Lithuania managed to preserve their lead until the end to claim the spoils on home soil.
The Maltese youngsters will now travel to Slovakia for next week’s European qualifier.
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