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Malta U-15 beat Moldova to reach Knockout stages of European Championship

Malta's Under-15 player launch into the pool at the European Championships.

MALTA              14

MOLDOVA      9

(3-1, 4-3, 3-3, 4-2)

The Malta Under 15 waterpolo national team booked their place into the knockout stages of the European Championships on Sunday when they brushed aside Moldova 14-9 in Podgorica, Montenegro.

It was a clinical performance from the team led by Jonathan Valletta and Ryan Coleiro as they managed to keep control of the match throughout and punished their opponents in key moments of the match to secure their second successive win in the competition.

Shailon Cutajar Casha again stood out for Malta with five goals while Sean Mifsud helped himself to a hat-trick as Malta will look to wrap up the top spot in the group with a victory over Lithuania on Monday.

The first session turned out to be very balanced with neither side holding any sort of supremacy over their opponents.

In fact, goals were hard to come by due to some tight defending from either side

Malta managed to forge ahead with less than 3.30 minutes to go when in a swift transition goalkeeper Zack Dzanovic found Shailon Cutajar Casha swam through and fired home from a close angle.

The Moldovans looked stunned and Cutajar Casha again picked up his spot to double his team’s lead.

Vladislav Cernovschi finally put Moldova back in the game when he pulled a goal back from a tight angle, but the Maltese soon restored their lead with a long-range strike from Max Lanzon.

The game remained evenly tight in the second quarter with the Moldovans getting back just a goal behind through Alexandru Boghean.

The Malta youngsters kept their composure and Sean Mifsud’s shot from the distance put the team back two goals ahead before Cutajar Casha fired home from the penalty spot to make it 5-2.

The Maltese were showing ruthlessness to punish the smallest error from their opponents and suddenly they changed ends three goals clear after Mifsud completed his hat-trick during this session to lead 7-4.

In the third session, the Moldovans refused to throw in the towel and Andrei Cuzmin and Egor Mitriuc beat Dzanovic with a firm strike from the distance to close the gap to just one goal – 7-6.

Cutajar Casha came again to the fore soon after when he fired home a fine strike to give some breathing space to his team.

Velciuc pulled the Moldovans just one behind, but a penalty goal from Cutajar Casha and a goal from Thomas Fenech lifted the team 10-7 ahead.

In the final eight minutes, the Moldovans threw caution to the wind in a bid to turn the match in their favour but their scoring touch deserted them.

On the other hand, the Maltese were at their clinical best as goals from Andre Aquilina, Max Lanzon, Jamie Borg Tabone and Jack Pawley Neame saw them stroll to a comfortable 14-9 victory.

MALTA: Z. Dzanovic, M. Lanzon 2, T. Fenech 1, A. Aquilina 1, S. Cutajar Casha 5, T. Camilleri, S. Mifsud 3, M. Cassar, J. Pawley Neame 1, J. Borg Tabone, A. Fava, P. Tabone, K. Manara.

MOLDOVA: C. Scebec, D. Velciuc 1, A. Cristal, A. Vitcov, A. Cuzmin 3, N. Leurda, A. Boghean 1, T. Colesnicenco 2, E. Mitriuc 1, G. Frunze, I. Nedelcev, A. Rotariu.

Referees: Roke Vehovek (Slovenia) Branimir Butigan (Bosnia).

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