Wednesday February 6, 2013 Friendlies Finished Ta'Qali Stadium

Malta 0 - 0 Northern Ireland

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  1. World Football - Malta hold disappointing Northern Ireland

    World Football - Malta hold disappointing Northern Ireland

    Michael O'Neill still awaits his first win as Northern Ireland manager after being held to a 0-0 draw against Malta at the Ta'Qali National Stadium. More

  • Live Commentary

    Time:90'
    • Malta
    • Northern Ireland
    • 90+2 And that's it. Disappointing game of very few chances but if O’Neill has found a formation that can stifle the Russians next month then the trip for 250 Northern Irishmen to watch this match will feel a little more worthwhile.
    • 90+1 Magennis heads down McGinn’s cross but Malta clear.
    • 90' Two minutes of added time for Northern Ireland to grab a winner.
    • 89' Mifsud is off and replaced by Terence Vella. And Schembri leaves the fray for Bajada.
    • 88' McCourt is ushered off the ball by Muscat as he looks to get past a third player - tried a player too many there.
    • 86' This could be Northern Ireland’s first clean sheet in their last eleven games – good first start for Mannus.
    • 85' Magennis enters the fray for Grigg.
    • 84' McCourt picks up a loose clearance, drops his shoulder to beat his man but his drive, from 20 yards, is blocked by Dimech.
    • 83' Dimech, once of Shamrock Rovers, does well to see off the challenge of Grigg as the Wallsall man tries to get in behind.
    • 81' Herrera gets away from Lafferty but his cross is a wayward – it is never a danger as it is wide and high.
    • 80' Mifsud looks to get in behind but he went a fraction too soon.
    • 79' With the introduction of McKay, the visitors are going long and Malta look comfortable. This is very much questionable performance from the O’Neill’s men but they have not been helped by the formation.
    • 77' Brunt is over a free-kick from 30 yards out but he elects to cross rather than shoot. That’s Brunt’s first contribution in about 15 minutes. The Malta defence steps out at once to catch the Nothern Ireland players static.
    • 75' The 250 travelling Northern Ireland fans will be lucky to see a winner here – the visitors have been abject.
    • 73' Lafferty takes a heavy touch but recovers to find Davis. McGinn wastes Davis' first-time pass by letting the ball run under his foot for a throw.
    • 72' McCourt for Bruce.
    • 71' It is now 1000 minutes since Northern Ireland scored an away friendly goal.
    • 70' That was very, very close from the hosts – it wouldn't be an undeserved win if the hosts steal it.
    • 68' Brunt loses the ball in midfield. The ball is worked wide and Mifsud takes the cross down on his chest before Mannus spreads himself to make a great save. Corner.
    • 66' Davis swings over a corner and Grigg makes a decent near-post run but a Malta head gets to it to clear it for another corner. Davis swings another corner over deep to the far post but Hogg claims.
    • 64' That’s an hour of that formation for Michael O’Neill’s men and he’ll be hoping that now that his side have more presence up front that they’ll be able to push on for a much needed win.
    • 62' The visitors looks a little brighter now with two men up front.
    • 60' McKay for Ferguson with Brunt probably off to the left wing and the Northern Ireland team shaping up as 4-4-2.
    • 58' Ferguson has a shot from distance but it is again poor – this has been a disappointing match thus far.
    • 57' Michael O’Neill summons a substitute so they are hopefully going to be bringing on another striker.
    • 55' Mannus claims the corner.
    • 53' Mifsud wins the ball in the channel, he cuts inside before drawing a smart save from Mannus.
    • 52' Brunt slots the ball in behind the full-back but McGinn miss-kicks. That was a tremendous ball from the West Brom man and that’s what makes him so frustrating - brilliance mixed with apparent indifference as much of the first half flew by him.
    • 50' Very lethargic start to the half.
    • 48' McGinn exchanges passes with Davis, which sees the Aberdeen man into the box. Hogg comes out to save at the feet of the forward.
    • 46' And we're back underway.
    • 45+1' That’s it from the first half.
    • 45' A defensive mix up following a deep cross gives Grigg a sight of goal but he fails to react quick enough and the chance has gone.
    • 43' Brunt is this time penalised for a late challenge on the edge of the box after a lapse in concentration from Lafferty. Failla gets it up and over the wall this time but Mannus claims.
    • 41' Mistake from Bruce – who lets the ball run under his foot – Mifsud has a shot blocked, which spins to Schembri, but he was in an offside position and that's a let off.
    • 39' Davis, who has been bright, cuts back to Ferguson but the ball is fractionally behind the run and the hosts clear. They work to Cohen who tries to slip the ball into Schembri but the ball is not of the required quality.
    • 37' Davis’ first-time pass into Grigg is intercepted but the Walsall player manages to exert some pressure on Hogg without ever really getting near it.
    • 36' McKay, top scorer in the SPL, really needs to make an appearance with the visitors struggling to put the Malta defence under any sort of pressure.
    • 34' Great clipped ball into the box from Davis. Grigg rises with Agius to win the header, which he glances just wide. Both men are down injured following a clash of heads.
    • 32' With very little ahead of him, Brunt has to keep coming back to his defenders.
    • 31' McAuley takes a risk in leaving a cross from the right drop over his shoulder with Sciberras lurking but the ball drifts out of play. Goal kick.
    • 30' The wisdom of playing one man up against Malta is looking more and more questionable as Malta grow into the game.
    • 29' Failla takes the free-kick, from25 yards out, and, while he clears the wall, he can’t get enough downward spin on it. Mannus has it covered anyway.
    • 27' Jonny Evans gets caught as he over-elaborates carrying the ball out of defence and he hauls former Coventry man Mifsud back. Professional foul from the Manchester United man.
    • 26' With Ferguson and McGinn struggling to impact the game, Grigg is cutting a pretty isolated figure in the lone striker role.
    • 24' Malta now have a corner. It is swung into the near post but Agius elects to use his hand to flick the ball on and the Israeli referee, Menashe Masiah, charges at the Maltese defender as if to emphasise the severity of the infringement before just giving him a warning.
    • 22' The referee has been a little over-zealous with the use of his whistle thus far. This time, Bruce is penalised for a robust – but fair – challenge on Cohen. Cohen clips a well-worked free-kick to Mifsud in the box. While the intended pass from Mifsud in the box is cleared, it falls to Sciberras on the edge but his effort is always rising.
    • 19' Disallowed goal. Brunt swings over a free-kick that Hogg gets under to allow the ball into the net but the referee blows for a foul. Debatable that. Gareth McAuley penalised for the foul as he bundles home.
    • 18' Davis slips the ball in behind the home defence. While Grigg’s run is a bright one, his first touch is heavy and Hogg meets the Walsall forward culminating in a goal-kick after a ricochet.
    • 16' Ferguson looks for Grigg with a first-time cross but it is just in front of the forward and Dimech clears. Brunt collects the clearance and initiates another attack. The option of Brunt playing in front of the back four is working out pretty well.
    • 15' Brunt finds McGinn with a sweeping ball and the winger gets past the first challenge but slightly overruns it and a second Maltese leg is there to clear.
    • 14' Davis has a snapshot from outside the box but it dribbles wide.
    • 13' Mifsud rolls the ball through the legs of Hughes but can’t get onto it inside the box – Mannus collects.
    • 12' Brunt, who is sitting in front of the back four, looks to switch the ball wide but it has too much on it.
    • 10' It has been 929 minutes since Northern Ireland last scored in an away international friendly.
    • 9' Mifsud, who has a record of 37 goals in 97 international appearances, looks to get in behind but the ball has too much on it.
    • 7' McGinn wins a corner, Davis slings it in. Evans evades the attention of his marker but mis-reads the flight of the ball and skews a header over the bar. Decent chance and Evans has his head in his hands such was the quality of the chance.
    • 5' McAuley makes a hash of a headed clearance and the ball falls to Herrera but his effort from the edge of the six-yard box is straight at Mannus.
    • 3' Northern Ireland have a surprisingly defensive set-up – the thinking behind it is that this is the formation that will be used in their next qualifier against Russia but it still seems a little bizzare.
    • 1' The visitors get us underway. It was 2003 when Northern Ireland last won a February friendly - their record reads eight losses and one win.
    • 18:25 Michael O'Neill is going for his first win as Northern Ireland manager, but Malta, currently ranked 146th in the world, have won their previous five international friendlies, and have won four of their last seven games - their best run since 2001-02.
    • 18:20 TEAMS: Malta: Hogg, Muscat, Andrei Agius, Dimech, Herrera, Sciberras, Failla, Paul Fenech, Cohen, Schembri, Mifsud. Subs: Haber, Zerafa, Ryan Fenech, Jacob Borg, Vella, Camilleri, Bajada /// Northern Ireland: Mannus, McAuley, Jonny Evans, Hughes, Lafferty, Brunt, McGinn, Davis, Bruce, Ferguson, Grigg. Subs: Doherty, Magennis, Cathcart, Shiels, Corry Evans, McCourt, McKay, Carson, McGurk.
    • 18:15 Tonight's team news is still filtering through, but, as soon as we have it confirmed, you'll have it.
    • 18:10 Northern Ireland are without Trevor Carson, Ryan McLaughlin, Ryan McGivern, Jamie Ward and Oliver Norwood, who have all withdrawn from the squad injured. Goalkeeper Roy Carroll is resting up because of a back complaint, but Ger Doherty of Derry, Aberdeen's Josh Magennis and Josh Carson of Ipswich could all feature having been added to the squad.
    • 18:05 Malta are without midfielder Roderick Briffa and defender Jonathan Caruana, who are both carrying knocks. They are set to make two changes from the side that completed a 1-0 win over Lichtenstein in November.
    • 18:00 Hello and welcome to our LIVE coverage from the Ta'Qali National Stadium where Malta entertain Northern Ireland in an international friendly.
  • Summary

    • 84' McCourt picks up a loose clearance, drops his shoulder to beat his man but his drive, from 20 yards, is blocked by Dimech.
    • 68' Brunt loses the ball in midfield. The ball is worked wide and Mifsud takes the cross down on his chest before Mannus spreads himself to make a great save. Corner.
    • 48' McGinn exchanges passes with Davis, which sees the Aberdeen man into the box. Hogg comes out to save at the feet of the forward.
    • 34' Great clipped ball into the box from Davis. Grigg rises with Agius to win the header, which he glances just wide. Both men are down injured following a clash of heads.
    • 22' The referee has been a little over-zealous with the use of his whistle thus far. This time, Bruce is penalised for a robust – but fair – challenge on Cohen. Cohen clips a well-worked free-kick to Mifsud in the box. While the intended pass from Mifsud in the box is cleared, it falls to Sciberras on the edge but his effort is always rising.
    • 19' Disallowed goal. Brunt swings over a free-kick that Hogg gets under to allow the ball into the net but the referee blows for a foul. Debatable that. Gareth McAuley penalised for the foul as he bundles home.
    • 18' Davis slips the ball in behind the home defence. While Grigg’s run is a bright one, his first touch is heavy and Hogg meets the Walsall forward culminating in a goal-kick after a ricochet.
    • 5' McAuley makes a hash of a headed clearance and the ball falls to Herrera but his effort from the edge of the six-yard box is straight at Mannus.
    • 18:20 TEAMS: Malta: Hogg, Muscat, Andrei Agius, Dimech, Herrera, Sciberras, Failla, Paul Fenech, Cohen, Schembri, Mifsud. Subs: Haber, Zerafa, Ryan Fenech, Jacob Borg, Vella, Camilleri, Bajada /// Northern Ireland: Mannus, McAuley, Jonny Evans, Hughes, Lafferty, Brunt, McGinn, Davis, Bruce, Ferguson, Grigg. Subs: Doherty, Magennis, Cathcart, Shiels, Corry Evans, McCourt, McKay, Carson, McGurk.

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