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Spirited Malta lose to Poland in second U-19’s Euro defeat

Maltese youngsters face Portugal in final group game

Strzalek 59, Plenko 82

Two goals in the second half handed Poland their first win of the campaign and inflicted Malta their second defeat in as many matches in the U-19’s European Championships.

Malta put on a much more strong performance than in their opener against Italy, buoyed by the local supporters that flocked to the Centenary Stadium to back the Maltese youngsters.

In an entertaining first 45 minutes, in which Poland also saw a red, both teams created a number of important goal scoring chances but neither could break the deadlock.

However, in the second half Poland found an early goal before Malta were also down to ten men making it more difficult to rescue at least a draw.

As a result, Portugal are now confirmed as the first semi-finalists of the tournament while Poland will face Italy to determine the second-place qualifier.

Malta, on their part, take on the Portuguese side in their final game which will be hosted in Gozo.

Coach Toze Mendes made some changes in his starting formation with Benjamin Hili, Tristian Viviani and Daniel Letherby given the nod ahead of suspended Jake Micallef, Matthias Ellul and Lucas Caruana.

Malta’s goalkeeper Hugo Sacco came to his team’s rescue immediately when Jordan Majchrzak fired from inside the small area but the Olympique Marseille pulled a brilliant one-handed save.

Standings provided by Sofascore

Kacper Urbanski, of Bologna, tried his luck from long range with a fierce shot but could not beat Sacco.

The Polish player threatened again with another long-distance shot but Sacco, once again, was alert to avert the danger.

Malta, on their part, tested Poland’s goalkeeper on the 18th-minute mark when Alfie Bridgman hit a brilliant freekick just to be deflected into corner.

In the 22nd minute, Poland went one man down when Wiktor Matyjewicz was given the marching orders after a second yellow card for a foul on Hili.

Dylan Scicluna, who is on the books of Wolves, looked to build on Malta’s momentum with another well-struck freekick just to be inches wide from goal.

His brother, Lucas, hit a left-footed strike that sailed over the bar as Malta continued to gain momentum against a ten-man Polish selection.

Shoot on sight was becoming Malta’s most viable option with Dylan also trying to test Poland’s goalkeeper, one again to no avail.

Malta thought they had opened the second half in style when Dylan Scicluna halted Poland’s build-up play inside the small area but Bridgman failed to capitalise on the mistake from close-range.

However, Poland broke the deadlock when Igor Strzalek profited a lack of clearance by the Maltese backline to fire a low drive past Sacco.

To add more woes to Malta, match official Yael Falcon, from Argentina, issued a direct red card to Dylan Scicluna for a negligent tackle on Mateusz Kowalcyzk past the hour mark.

Coach Toze Mendes tried to spark Malta into life with the inclusion of Lucas Caruana and Nathan Cross as the home side was still hopeful of a positive result.

Poland sealed their victory with a late goal through an unmarked Tomasz Plenko.


H. Sacco; A. Borg (85 B. Buhagiar), S. Xerri, J. Vassallo, L. Scicluna, B. Tuma (85 S. Gatt), D. Scicluna, B. Hili (71 L. Caruana), T. Viviani, D. Letherby (71 N. Cross), A. Bridgman (63 B. Borg).


O. Zych; I. Drapinski, M. Matysik (79 D. Bugaj), J. Majchrzak (24 W. Smolinski), K. Urbanski, M. Brzozowski, W. Matyjewicz, M. Kowalczyk, J. Nsangou (63 T. Plenko), D. Biniek (46 K. Przyblko), I. Strzalek (79 A. Kozubai).

Referee: Yael Falcon (Argentina).

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