Moldova needed a late equaliser to deny Malta what would have been an unprecedented second successive victory in UEFA EURO 2008™ Group C in rainswept Chisinau. Just five minutes remained when Alexandru Epureanu headed in from a corner to cancel out George Mallia's opener in a match that both sides finished with ten men.
Although bottom of the group, Moldova dominated from the start and it seemed only a matter of time before they got the breakthrough. The stage was set perfectly when they were awarded a penalty in the 24th minute, but Malta goalkeeper Justin Haber dived low to his right to save Viorel Frunza's spot-kick.
Buoyed by their first victory in competitive football for 13 years in their last qualifier against Hungary, Malta were resolute but on the back foot for the most part, although Jamie Pace's fierce free-kick fizzed just over the top from 25 metres to give Moldova a scare. The pattern of the game was much the same after the restart, with Haber again on his toes to deny Igor Bugaiov. The Malta keeper was left stranded in the 61st minute as he tried to close down Serghei Namasco and the FC Sheriff midfielder slipped the ball square to Frunza, but he stumbled over the attempt from four metres and could not steer his shot on target.
Malta took the lead in the 73rd minute as Mallia raced on to a low, angled cross by Ivan Woods to steer the ball in off the underside of the crossbar, but their hopes of hanging on were crushed by Epureanu. As tempers flared before play could restart, Moldova's Serghei Dadu and Malta's Luke Dimech were sent off for their part in a goalmouth confrontation. Malta, who stay in fifth place on four points, host Greece on Wednesday, when Moldova travel to Hungary.