(2-1, 2-4, 1-1, 2-3)
The Malta U-17 national team produced a battling display before going down to Germany in the opening match of the European Championship finals in Manisa, Turkey.
Milan Cirovic’s boys produced a very encouraging performance against a German team who is ranked much higher than our team on the continent and who only assured themselves of a narrow victory in the final session.
In fact, the Maltese started the game very well as despite trailing to Vukasin Simic goal midway through the first session, they managed to turn the result in their favour with goals from Dean Bugeja and Jayden Cutajar, from the penalty spot.
The match remained evenly poised in the second session with both sides trading blows. In fact, the Germans struck through Arne Hoffmann and Simic to level the match at three-all after Cutajar had grabbed Malta’s third of the match.
Cutajar restored Malta’s lead at 4-3 but it was the Germans who ended the session the stronger as they made the most of two extra-man sets with Hofmann and Fynn Janke putting them 5-4 ahead when ends were changed.
There was little separating either side in the third session with Elijah Schembri puttung Malta level at 5-5 before Marian Kob scored at the death to give the Germans a 6-5 lead at the start of the final session.
Malta’s hopes suffered a blow early in the fourth quarter when Jayden Cutajar was excluded with substitution and that handed the initiative to the Germans who scored three times without replay through Simic (2) and Hofmann, with the Maltese missing a penalty through Dean Bugeja.
But the Maltese youngster kept going and goals from Julian Valletta and Sam Engerer pull them two goals behind at 9-7.
Still, the Germans did well to administer their lead till the end to open their campaign with a win.
Malta will now be again in action on Wednesday morning when they face Georgia. The latter opened their campaign with a 13-10 win over Ukraine.
MALTA: Z. Dzanovic, S. Engerer 1, J. Valletta 1, G. Bonavia, J. Cassar, D. Bugeja 1, Z. Cutajar Licari, J. Cutajar 3, E. Schembri 1, J. Chircop, L. Dimech, E. Mallia, M. Grech.
GERMANY: M. Roessel, F. Taubert, V. Simic 4, F. Bruns, A. Hofmann 3, N. Mosinzov, F. Janke 1, F. Klaffke, C. Marcinczak, A. Mityska, F. De Marco, M. Kob 1, E. Heinrich.
Referees: Mihai Balanescu (Romania), Grigorios Spanoudis (Greece).
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