Cyprus found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline in a seesaw affair in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau, unable to hold a lead despite conservative tactics due to poor set piece defending, and poor goalkeeping. This was a rare loss to a team actually ranked lower in the FIFA rankings.

Cyprus visited Moldova in an international friendly at Stadionul Zimbru in Chisinau. Cyprus had only played Moldova once before, a 3-2 home win for Cyprus in Nicosia in 2011. Timur Ketsbaia’s lineup featured many players playing out of position, such as playing Giannis Satsias(a midfielder) as a defender and Grigoris Kastanos(an attacking midfielder) as a holding midfielder.

Cyprus had an early chance from Andreas Chrysostomou, but it was turned aside by Cristian Avram. At the other end, Ion Nicolaescu was able to get away from Giannis Satsias and fire off a shot, but he curled it just over the bar. Cyprus came close to a breakthrough about midway through the first half, as Hector Kyprianou got open on a corner, but under pressure, headed the ball over the net. Nicolaescu then forced Joel Mall to make a save, but the Swiss-born keeper was able to get an arm on the attempt. Mall then denied Mihail Caimacov from distance. Grigoris Kastanos then threatened Avram with a bullet from outside the box, but the chance sailed just wide of the post. Chrysostomou gave it another go, but despite having time and space, skied it over the net.

Ultimately, Moldova struck first, just before halftime, Artur Ionita played in a nice cross which found Ioan-Calin Revenco, who headed it on net. Mall tried to parry it, but instead it went off his shoulder and right to Nichita Motpan who was able to lean forward and head it in, giving Moldova the 1-0 halftime advantage.

Cyprus however, were able to equalize early in the second half. Loizos Loizou managed to steal the ball, and laid it off for Ioannis Pittas, who was just able to get it to Danilo Spoljaric, who beat Avram to the far post to level the match at 1-1.

Not even two minutes later, Grigoris Kastanos wearing the armband sent a nice through ball for Pittas, who split two Moldovan defenders, and fired past Avram to give Cyprus the 2-1 advantage.

Moldova would answer, however. On a Moldovan corner, Mall punched a ball he could have caught, and Victor Stina unleashed a low shot from outside the box that made it through traffic and past Mall to make it 2-2.

Moldova struck again from a corner just a few minutes later, and once again it came from a sub. Stina who had just scored, took a shot straight at Mall, but Mall spilled it and Victor Bogaciuc pounced on it, to put Moldova up 3-2. Moldova then almost scored on yet another corner, but the goal was called back on a handball.

After that, Cyprus struggled to even possess the ball, but Marios Ilia was able to unload an attempt in stoppage time, but it was blocked in front by Artur Craciun, and Moldova were able to hang on to win the wild friendly, 3-2. Cyprus have now only won once in their last 13 matches, they will next face San Marino in another friendly on Tuesday.


MOLDOVA(Serghei Clescenco): 12. Cristian Avram(GK), 14. Artur Craciun, 4. Vladislav Baboglo(’77 19. Victor Bogaciuc), 5. Veaceslav Posmac, 21. Ioan-Calin Revenco, 22. Vadim Rata(Captain), 7. Artur Ionita(’64 16. Victor Stina), 18. Serafim Cojocari(’46 2. Oleg Reabciuk), 11. Mihail Caimacov(’64 17. Virgiliu Postolachi), 8. Nichita Motpan(’46 10. Vitalie Damascan), 9. Ion Nicolaescu(’77 24. Nicky Clescenco)

CYPRUS(Timur Ketsbaia): 22. Joel Mall(GK), 17. Nikolas Panayiotou, 6. Alex Gogic, 3. Hector Kyprianou(’60 16. Stelios Andreou), 14. Giorgos Malekkidis, 15. Danilo Spoljaric(’60 18. Kostakis Artymatas), 20. Grigoris Kastanos(Captain), 7. Giannis Satsias(’83 19. Marios Ilia), 12. Andreas Chrysostomou(’55 25. Chambos Kyriakou), 10. Loizos Loizou(’55 21. Stavros Gavriil), 9. Ioannis Pittas


By Andrew Mantzas