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Malta Winning Its First Away Match In Over 7 Years Is Nations League At Its Best

A beautiful aspect of international football is that it allows you to sample the vibe of a far-flung locale from the comfort of your own living room. Today, I took a trip to Riga, Latvia, to watch a UEFA Nations League D Group 1 meeting between the host nation and visiting Malta.

With Faroe Islands pacing the group on seven points from three matches, this was effectively a must-win game for both 137th-ranked Latvia (three points off three draws) and 186th-ranked Malta (two points). 

The stakes couldn’t have been higher at the sparsely attended Daugava Stadium, and cries of “Lat! Vi! Ja!” echoed around the fine example of socialist modernism. 

Daugava Stadium

A beautiful sunset over Daugava Stadium in Riga, Latvia. 

The first thing I noticed was Latvian brick shithouse Mārcis Ošs. Standing at 6 feet, 4 inches and built like Harry Maguire and Robert Huth’s illegitimate love child, Ošs took every throw-in and was targeted on every set piece for Latvia.  

Marcis Oss

This seems like the kind of guy Arsenal would sign in 2016. 

The Oss Toss

The Ošs Toss.

The second thing I noticed was a car with its headlights on in this heavily wooded corner of the stadium. 

Car lights

The best seat in the house.

That car eventually left, but then a man appeared at the wood’s edge. He posted up on a tree for a while and nervously kept glancing behind him until he suddenly disappeared. We’ll need to form a search party for this man.

Car watcher

A very sketch individual. 

Where'd he go?

Where'd he go?

There’s also this sponsor called “Sponser,” which checks out. 

Sponsored by Sponser

Sponsored by Sponser. 

Finally, I discovered that Malta has a brother duo. Both Joseph Mbong (23) and Paul Mbong (19) started for Malta, with Joseph running around the left wing and Paul doing his business on the right. They weren’t quite Eden and Thorgan Hazard but time is on their side. 

Paul Mbong

The younger Mbong.

Joseph Mbong

The elder Mbong. 

As for the action on the pitch, things seemed destined for a draw despite both teams looking lively, but Malta found a 96th-minute winner through Steve Borg off a set piece. 

It’s Malta’s first-ever Nations League win and a first away victory in seven years, four months and six days.  

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