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Watch: Mbong screamer hands Malta perfect tonic ahead of North Macedonia test

Malta's Joseph Mbong (right) pushes towards goal against Gibraltar. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

MALTA              1

J. Mbong 58


MALTA H. Bonello, R. Camenzuli, S. Borg, K. Shaw, M. Guillaumier, J. Mbong (87 J. Corbalan), L. Montebello (76 K. Nwoko), E. Pepe (62 J. Borg), J. Degabriele (62 P. Mbong), B. Kristensen (76 Y. Yankam), J. Jones (62 T. Teuma).

GIBRALTAR D. Coleing, J. Sergeant (79 El Hmidi), B. Lopes (57 Jolley), L. Walker, N. Hartman (71 L. Casciaro), R. Chipolina, A. Mouelhi, K. Ronan (71 E. Santos), T. De Barr, E. Britto, N. Pozo.

Referee: Milos Boskovic (Montenegro).

Yellow cards: Pepe, De Barr, Hartman.

The Malta national team warmed up in the best possible way for their upcoming Euro 2024 assignment when they overcame Gibraltar in an international friendly at the National Stadium on Wednesday.

Joseph Mbong was the team’s hero as the Ħamrun Spartans winger scored a spectacular winner early in the second half to hand the team the perfect preparation ahead of next Tuesday’s qualifier against North Macedonia at the National Stadium.

It was a convincing performance for the national team who were superior to their opponents and it had to be some excellent interventions from Gibraltar goalkeeper Dayley Coleing to deny the hosts a more pronounced victory.

Malta’s Joseph Mbong scores against Gibraltar. Video: TVM Sport+

Malta coach Michele Marcolini welcomed back in the fray goalkeeper Henry Bonello, who recovered from a hand injury suffered against Ukraine, and defender Enrico Pepe who missed June’s international matches.

Hibernians trio Kurt Shaw, Bjorn Kristensen, and Jurgen Degabriele were handed a starting berth along with Spartans forward Luke Montebello as Marcolini looked to give some opportunities to a number of players in his squad ahead of the Euro 2024 qualifier against North Macedonia.

The home side started strongly and after five minutes of play, Montebello tried his luck with a shot from an angled position that was somehow pushed away by Gibraltar goalkeeper Dayle Coleing.

Six minutes later, the Gibraltar goalkeeper was almost beaten from 25 metres out by Jurgen Degabriele as the Hibernians striker hit a swerving drive that was somehow kept out by Coleing in two attempts.

Gibraltar were more focused on closing all avenues for the Maltese defence rather than pushing forward as the home side enjoyed long spells of possession.

Malta finally threatened on 34 minutes when in a quick break Montebello broke free on the right and his low cross was somehow kept out by the Gibraltar defence.

The ball fell to Montebello again but the Ħamrun forward miscued his effort.

Seven minutes from the break, Montebello, who has been a hard-working figure in the first half, did well to pick Matthew Guillaumier on the edge of the area and his thumping low drive was somehow kept out by Coleing.

A poor pass from Steve Borg almost cost the home side dearly as De Barr raced clear but his low drive was well kept out by Bonello.

Malta started the second half on the front foot and on 49 minutes Kurt Shaw released Jodi Jones who turned past his marker and his thumping drive finished just over.

Two minutes later, Ryan Camenzuli sent a dipping cross inside the area but Guillaumier headed over.

A minute later, Degabriele’s delivery from a corner caused confusion in the Gibraltar defence with Steve Borg’s attempted backheel blocked by Coleing.

Malta’s pressure finally yielded an opener on 58 minutes and what a goal it was. Mbong picked up a short clearance and hit a thumping drive that gave no chance to the Gibraltar goalkeeper.

Substitute Kyrian Nwoko came close to a second on 80 minutes when his curling drive was pushed over by Coleing.

Five minutes from time the Nwoko siblings almost conjured another goal as Joseph Mbong moved past two defenders before setting up his brother Paul Mbong who saw his shot pushed away by Coleing.

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