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5-1 defeat is hard to swallow – Ghedin

A downcast Pietro Ghedin was lost for words as he tried to explain Malta’s worst home defeat since 2006 when the national team slumped to a 5-2 loss to Bosnia and Herzegovina in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

“Listen, for me this is a very hard pill to swallow,” Ghedin told reporters after the 5-1 loss to Scotland in their opening 2018 World Cup Group F qualifier on Sunday.

“I’m disappointed to lose a game with five goals.”

“It felt like we were cornered in a boxing ring and our opponent kept hitting us,” Ghedin added.

The Malta coach was in no doubt that Jonathan Caruana’s dismissal, following a controversial penalty call, contributed to the humiliating defeat but admitted that Scotland were worthy winners.

“Look, I will not comment on whether the referee made the right decision or not,” Ghedin said.

“I haven’t watched the incident again on television, so I’m not in a position to comment on his decision.

“We are not looking for excuses. Scotland played a fantastic game and were worthy winners. They played well, pushed a lot and kept coming at us. It was awful for us.

“All we should say to the fans is sorry... next time we will play better.”

Ghedin confirmed that Andrè Schembri was substituted midway into the second half after being hit on his back in the action that led to Scotland’s second goal.

However, the Malta coach refused to be drawn into saying whether the Scots showed poor sportsmanship by failing to put the ball out as Schembri lay on the ground.

As it turned out, Matt Ritchie advanced and released Chris Martin who stabbed the ball home.

Three-goal Snodgrass delighted

Hull City midfielder Robert Snodgrass had a night to remember after scoring a hat-trick to join a pool of distinguished strikers to achieve that feat in international matches at Ta’ Qali.

The last three players to chalk up a hat-trick in Malta were Zlatan Ibrahimovic (vs Sweden 0-7, September 4, 2004), Ebbe Sand (vs Denmark 0-5, March 24, 2001) and Marco van Basten (vs Holland 0-8, December 19, 1990).

“It’s good to be up there with these great players. It’s positive for me because I missed the last campaign as I was recovering from a back injury but I’m starting to get back and scoring goals again,” Snodgrass said.

“We created a lot of chances and I could have scored more goals. At this level, if you miss chances you get punished and that’s what happened to us in the first half.

“Malta played with five at the back and after going a man down, we stretched their defence and got the goals.”

Scotland captain Darren Fletcher said: “It was still a tough first match. We knew we faced a hard task against Malta but at the end, we got three points on the board and we can now look forward to the next matches.”

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