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Malta U-17 brush aside Georgia at European Championship finals

MALTA            16

GEORGIA        7

(4-2, 4-2, 3-2, 5-1)

The Malta U-17 national team bounced back in style from their opening-day defeat to Germany when they brushed aside Georgia in a Group D clash at the European Championship finals in Turkey.

It was a clinical performance from Milan Cirovic’s boys who managed to outclass a Georgia team that had beaten Ukraine on the opening day.

Elijah Schembri was a key figure in Malta’s win when netting six goals while Jayden Cutajar scored four.

The win takes further significance when one considers that Germany were stunned by Ukraine 13-12 in the opening match of the day to throw the grew wide open.

In fact, all four teams are on three points and Thursday’s final group matches will be decisive to decide which teams will go through.

But no doubt, the win over Georgia will be a huge injection of confidence for the Maltese youngsters who face Ukraine on Thursday morning.

Malta took some time to get going with Georgia taking an early lead courtesy of a penalty conversion from Aleksande Chkheidze.

But the Maltese hit back strongly and they managed to draw level after a fast transition converted by Julian Chircop before Sam Engerer made it 2-1 with a firm drive from a close angle.

The Georgians made the most of a double exclusion to make it 2-2 through Nikoloz Kurashvili.

But the Maltese managed to restore their lead when they were awarded two successive penalties that were both converted by Jayden Cutajar to surge 4-2 ahead at the end of the quarter.

Malta continued to procure penalties at the start of the second session and this time Elijah Schembri’s shot came off the bar but from the rebound, the same player fired home.

The Maltese’s full-pitch press and lightning swimming were causing Georgia all sorts of problems and they added a sixth goal with another fast break, converted by Jayden Cutajar.

Kurashvili pulled a goal back but Malta soon restored their four-goal lead when Zak Cutajar Licari converted a man-up shot.

Georgia scored their fourth goal through Kurashvili but Schembri made it 8-4 for Malta just before ends were changed.

The Maltese made a fast start to the third session as goals from Gabriel Bonavia and Schembri extended their lead to 10-4.

Georgia hit back as goals from Chkheidze and Kursashvili bridged the gap to four goals.

But it was Schembri again who was on the mark for Malta to put the team 11-6 ahead with one session to go.

Jayden Cutajar converted a man-up set at the start of the final set and further goals by Luigi Dimech, from a penalty, and Schembri, put Malta in firm command as they led 14-6.

The match was as good as over and Julian Chircop further rubberstamped Malta’s dominance when he netted the team’s 15th goal from another man-up set.

The Maltese players kept pushing and Schembri converted another penalty to extend the lead to 16-6.

Kurashvili grabbed his team’s seventh goal, but that was too little too late as Malta were long home and dry.

MALTA: Z. Dzanovic, S. Engerer 1, J. Valletta, G. Bonavia 1, J. Cassar, D. Bugeja, Z. Cutajar Licari 1, J. Cutajar 4, E. Schembri 6, J. Chircop 2, L. Dimech 1, E. Mallia, M. Grech.

GERMANY: G. Kakhiani, S. Gujaraidze, S. Iobidze, D. Tsereteli, G. Veshaguri, N. Giorgobiani, N. Huhulashvili, N. Kurashvili 5, L. Khutsianidze, A. Chkheidze 2, L. Mtchedlishvili, D. Todija, S. Enukishvili.

Referees: Mihai Balanescu (Romania), Massimo Calabro (Italy).

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