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Malta fall to Italy in close defeat at LEN U-17 European Championships

Maltese U-17 waterpolo players stand for the national anthem in Turkey.

ITALY   10

MALTA                7

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

Italy edged Malta 10-7 in Turkey on Friday at the LEN Under-17 European Championships. It was a David and Goliath fixture on paper which was all but that in the pool as Malta, coming from a victory the day before against Ukraine, battled hard to keep a tough Italian team at bay.

As expected, Italy took the game by storm in the early stages of the opening session as quick-fire goals from Jacopo Gambacciani and Diego Tresa gave them an early 2-0 lead.

But the Maltese youngsters refused to buckle and after shoring up their defence, Elijah Schembri pulled one back with a spectacular strike before Jayden Cutajar levelled matters with another exquisite finish to make it 2-2.

The second session was just as close as Malta held the Italians at arm’s length.

It was Italy who struck first through Davide Varvallo a minute into play. But Malta levelled four minutes later when Cutajar scored his second goal.

Francesco Scordo made it 4-3 and Francesco Pettonati opened a two-goal cushion before Julian Valletta brought the score back to just a goal away.

The third session was Italy’s best run of form scoring three goals to Malta’s one. Diego Tresa extended his side’s lead with a man-up situation. Once again, Cutajar was on hand to minimise the score with 5.35 gone in the session. However, goals from Gambacciani and Varvallo made it a tough nut for Malta to crack in the final session.

However, Malta did not die down and they scored the next goal after half of the fourth session gone with Sam Engerer putting his name on the scoresheet.

Italy’s Lorenzo Demarchi scored to make it 9-6 with 3.46 to go with Malta replying through Gabriel Bonavia just seconds later.

While Malta looked committed to causing an upset, Italy made it an impossible task when Tresa fired in his side’s 10th goal to seal the win for Italy.


F. Castrucci, C. Barigelli, L. Demarchi 1, D. Tresa 3, D. Varvallo 2, E. Miraldi, F. Scordo 1, S. De Vecchis, F. Pettonati 1, J. Gambacciani 2, A. Salipante, G. Valle, L. Izzo.


Z. Dzanovic, S. Engerer 1, J. Valletta 1, G. Bonavia 1, J. Cassar, D. Bugeja, N. Bonavia, J. Cutajar 3, E. Schembri 1, J. Chircop, L. Dimech, E. Mallia, M. Grech.


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