Malta lose Euro 24 opener against North Macedonia

Malta were beaten 2-1 in their opening Euro 24 qualifier against North Macedonia in Skopje on Thursday.

It was a bitter blow for Malta who were not overwhelmed or outplayed by their hosts. The first half, indeed the first hour, was fairly balanced with both sides creating chances and Malta on several occasions getting a real sniff of a goal. Malta had to endure a dubious penalty decision which was rightly over-ruled by VAR.

In the opening minutes Teddy Teuma made space for himself inside the box but could not get his shot on target. That was about the best chance of the first half.

North Macedonia began the second half with more urgency and shortly after the penalty call was overturned, danger man Elmas pounced on a loose ball to fire North Macedonia in front.

As Malta tried to recover from that setback, Churlinov made it 2-0.

Substitute Yannick Yankam, winning his first cap for Malta, pulled one back with only minutes of normal time remaining and in stoppage time, Joseph Mbong and Corbolan went close but Malta could not find that elusive equaliser.

It finished 2-1 but in his first international, new coach Michele Marcolini will have seen his team show commitment and purpose on the pitch. Now he has to regroup ahead of Sunday’s clash with Italy at Ta’Qali.

Photos: MFA