Slovenia see off Malta to go top

Malta 1-4 Slovenia
Goals from Robert Berić, Rajko Rep, Dejan Lazarevič and Enej Jelenič helped Slovenia leapfrog their hosts into first place in Group 2.

Robert Berić celebrates scoring Slovenia's opener against Malta
Robert Berić celebrates scoring Slovenia's opener against Malta ©Domenic Aquilina

Slovenia registered their second win in Group 2 to take an early lead in the qualifying section with a 4-1 victory in Malta.

The hosts had topped the pool before kick-off but were two down by half-time after strikes from Robert Berić and Rajko Rep. Tomaž Kavčič's side added another before the hour mark through Dejan Lazarevič and although Zach Muscat pulled one back, the last word went to Slovenia following Enej Jelenič's 86th-minute effort.

Slovenia started on the front foot with Lazarevič having a tenth-minute strike blocked by home goalkeeper Steve Sultana. Terence Vella and Tristan Caruana returned fire for the hosts, both going close before the visitors made the breakthrough. Berić pounced on a loose pass out of the Maltese defence, and Slovenia then grabbed a vital second on the stroke of half-time when Rep put the finishing touches to a well-worked free-kick.

Most of Slovenia's best play had come through Lazarevič and the Padova Calcio midfielder rounded off an impressive performance with a neatly taken low effort for his side's third. Leighton Grech released Muscat to score what proved to be nothing more than a consolation as Jelenič restored the three-goal advantage late on.