H. Sacco, M. Ellul, J. Vassallo, O. Spiteri (78 J. Micallef), A. Garzia (78 M. Gambin), A. Borg (59 B. Tuma), K. Bondin, G. Sciberras, N. Micallef (78 K. Mohnani), A. Zammit, M. Veselji.
T. Anarbekov (85 N. Pivkin), Y. Tkachenko (66 L. Kurgin), M. Kalmyrza, A. Zhumakhanov, D. Kassabulat, A. Dobay, D. Mitrofanov (66 N. Zhaksylyk), A. Nazymkhanov (85 D. Yessimbekov), A. Sadybekov, N. Buribayev, A. Abdulla (S. Popov).
Referee: A. Chiaramonti (Andorra).
Yellow cards: Tkhacenko, Spiteri, Veselji, Zhumakhanov.
The Malta U-21 national team were made to pay by a clinical Kazakhstan side as they succumbed to a disappointing 2-0 defeat at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.
Second half goals from Aibar Abdulla and Damir Kassabulat earned the Kazakhi side their first win in the qualifying group and left the Maltese at the bottom of the group with no points after five matches.
There can be no qualms on Kazakshstan’s victory as the visitors looked tactically solid right from the outset, piling the pressure on the hosts throughout the match and their supremacy was rewarded with two excellent second-half goals that saw them emerging deserved winners.
As for the Maltese youngsters, they never looked at ease throughout the match as the high expectancy of seeing them break their duck in the group has negatively effected their display to slump to yet another defeat.
Kazakhstan were very aggressive early on and came close inside the first minute when Nurgaini Buribayev stole possession and hit a rasping drive that kissed the bar before finishing out of play.
The Maltese were struggling to settle in the game and on 13 minutes the home side were lucky nto to concede an opener. Adilkhan Dobay pounced on some hesitant defending from Owen Spiteri in the Malta defence to storm clear but he incredibly fired wide with only Sacco to beat.
The home side were trying to come out of their own half with Andrea Zammit very active in the Maltese attack but were struggling to break down the Kazakh defence.
Just past the half hour mark, Mattia Veselji put pressure on the Kazakh goalkeeper Temirlan Anarbekov who received the ball from a back pass and the latter just managed to anticipate the Floriana striker to clear the danger.
Malta goalkeeper Sacco came to Malta’s rescue six minutes from the break when he tipped over Buribayev’s shot.
The Maltese started brightly the second half and on 49 minutes they came close from a central free-kick but Gianluca Sciberras’ inswinger finished just wide.
At the other end, Sacco had to be alert to block Denis Mitrofanov’s shot.
It was Kazakhstan who drew first blood on 52 minutes when Nazymkhanov fed Abdulla at the edge of the area and the forward hit a firm drive that flew into the top corner.
The Maltese tried to react but they struggled to break down the hard-working Kazakh defence.
Instead it was the visitors who doubled their lead 18 minutes from time. From a Nurali Zhaksylyk corner kick, Darim Kassabulat pounced at the far post to head the ball past Sacco and all but wrap up the points for his side.
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