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Malta made to pay for sloppy defensive display by rampant Czechs in international friendly

Malta midfielder Matthew Guillaumier pushes forward against the Czech Republic. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

CZECH REPUBLIC           7

Barak 6 pen.; D. Jurasek 47; Chytil 44, 58; Lingr 71; M. Jurasek 86; Cerny 89

MALTA              1

P. Mbong 60

Referee Stefan Ebner (Austria).

Yellow cards Reid, Coufal, Sadilek.

Red card Joseph Mbong (M) 84.

Euro 2024 finalists Czech Republic punished a sloppy defensive display from the Malta national team on Friday to ease home to a crushing 7-1 win in a friendly international in Austria.

Michele Marcolini’s men struggled to match the quality of the Czechia outfit who used the warm-up as one of their final dress rehearsals before taking part in the continental finals that will get underway in Germany next week.

The Maltese players, fresh from a three-week training camp following the end of the domestic season, tried to keep abreast with their superior opponents but were let down by poor defensive play that regaled at least three goals to the Czechs.

Indeed, most of the Maltese players have not played a competitive match for more than a month but there was hope that the team would at least show character and defensive organisation when falling two goals down after the first half.

Instead, after the break, the team seemed unable to respond and their performance levels continued to drift as the minutes passed to end up suffering a humiliating defeat.

One would hope that this defeat will act as a wake-up call for all the players to try and produce the right reaction in next week’s second warm-up against Greece to lift their confidence ahead of the start of their UEFA Nations League commitments.

Malta coach Michele Marcolini named Henry Bonello in goal as the experienced goalkeeper returned to action after sitting out the final part of the Premier League season due to injury.

Teddy Teuma was also back in the fray after sitting out of the March international matches due to injury while upfront, Kemar Reid led the forward line in the absence of the injured Luke Montebello.

The other players missing the match through injury were wing-back Carlo Zammit Lonardelli and midfielder Yannick Yankam.

Jodi Jones was again unavailable after he turned down the call-up last month, citing that he needed time to recover from a long season, much to the disappointment of Marcolini who questioned the player’s commitment to the team.

Malta were off to a poor start as after five minutes away they gave away a penalty.

Defender Steve Borg was penalised by Austrian referee Stefan Ebner for blocking with his arm David Jurasek’s cross inside the area.

From the resultant penalty, skipper Antonin Barak, who is on the books of Fiorentina, rifled the ball past the diving Bonello.

Malta’s Ryan Camenzuli attempts to dribble past his marker against the Czech Republic. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Malta responded on 11 minutes but Matthew Guillaumier’s shot ended just wide.

Ten minutes later, Bonello had to be alert to tip over the bar Tomas Chory’s header.

The Czechs almost doubled their lead on 24 minutes when Chory’s downward header was not turned home by Mojmir Chytil in front of a gaping goal.

As the minutes passed, the Maltese were controlling better their superior opponents and eight minutes from the break Teuma almost snatched an equaliser out of nowhere.

The Reims midfielder won possession in midfield, before charging forward and hit a rasping drive that just missed the upright.

However, it was the Czechs who struck again on the stroke of half-time when Coufal picked the unmarked Chytil inside the area and the Sparta Prague forward blasted the ball past the helpless Bonello.

Things continued to get worse for the Maltese three minutes into the second half when David Jurasek – despite being in an angled position – beat Bonello with a rasping drive to grab his team’s third goal.

Ten minutes into the second half, the Maltese players shouted ‘penalty’ when Teuma played in Mbong who was closed down by Coufal. But the referee saw nothing untoward.

A couple of minutes later, the Maltese defence were again punished for some lax defending when Chytil was left completely unmarked to head past Bonello and complete his hat-trick.

Right from the restart, Malta pulled a goal back when Zach Muscat’s throughball released Paul Mbong who turned past the Czech goalkeeper to deposit the ball into an empty net.

On 66 minutes, Malta thought they had scored a second goal when Alex Satariano played in Mbong who slid the ball past Jaros. But the ‘goal’ was annulled for offside.

Instead, it was the Czechs who added a fifth goal when substitute Matej Jurasek completely surprised the out-of-positioned Bonello, with the Malta custodian touching the ball onto the upright but in came Ondrej Lingr who tapped home.

 There were more woes for Malta as seven minutes from time Joseph Mbong was shown a straight red card for headbutting Lukas Cerv in retaliation after being fouled.

That was a huge blow for the Maltese as soon after, the Czechs made their numerical advantage count five minutes from time when Jurasek burst inside the area and beat Bonello with a low drive.

The Czechs were not finished yet and Cerny beat Bonello with a fine curling drive from the edge of the area to cap a miserable day for the national team.

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