SERBIA          19

MALTA          4

(5-1, 5-0, 5-1, 4-2)

Serbia powered their way into the quarter-finals of the European U-17 Championships when they eased past Malta 19-4 in a cross-over play-off in Tbilisi yesterday.

After Malta’s sprightly showing in their 14-12 defeat to Russia on Tuesday, there were a glimmer of hope that Karl Izzo’s youngsters could offer a stern challenge to the Serbians.

But in reality, Serbia gave a timely reminder of why they are seen as one of the favourites in the Tbilisi championship when they produced a ruthless display that left the Maltese youngsters helpless.

Malta will now be involved in the positional play-offs from ninth to 12th place.

The Serbians made their intentions clear right from the outset when they raced into a five-goal lead.

The Maltese youngsters were clearly struggling to create any danger to the Serbian goal as they looked too fragile when in possession.

Malta finally pulled a goal back late in the first quarter through Sebastian Busuttil.

There was no let off from the Serbians in the second quarter as they completely outmuscled the Maltese with their fast swimming and sharp-shooting.

In fact they managed to score five times without reply to race to a 10-1 lead and all but wrap up their passage to the quarter-finals but the half way stage.   

It was only late in the third session that the Maltese youngsters managed to find the net again through a Jake Muscat penalty but that didn’t stop the Serbians to stretch their lead to 15-2.

In the final session, Lucas Falzon and a Jake Falzon penalty conversion added to Malta’s tally but the Serbians still eased to a comfortable 19-4 success.

SERBIA: L. Durutovic, A. Vasic 3, M. Vukazic, L. Pljevancic 5, S. Gak 1, M. Tonkovic, N. Bucan 2, V. Milojevic 3, V. Martinovic 3, N. Cvetkovic 1, D. Janjic 1, O. Vasovic, M. Ivanovic.

MALTA: M. Vassallo, J. Farrugia, N. Schiavone, G. Mellilo, M. Carani, B. Cachia, L. Falzon 1, S. Busuttil 1, G. Farrugia, J. Bonavia, M. Chircop, J. Muscat 2, M. Rossi.

Referees: Veselin Miskovic (Montenegro), Ante Bura (Croatia).