Bugeja 45, 52, 58
T. Gabunia; G. Kadagishvili, N. Chkhartishvili, N. Danelia (E. Kakianashvili), T. Bakradze (60 A. Bolkradze), L. Chichinadze, K. Tchknoia, A. Cheminava (79 T. Epitashvili), N. Sutidze, T. Todadze (79 M. Bebia), A. Jojua.
J. Xuereb; E. Lipman (60 J. Flask). S. Farrugia, D. Theuma (64 M. Borg), R. Cuschieri (46 M. Farrugia), A. Sultana, S. Zammit (76 K. Chetcuti), C. Zammit, B. Borg, N. Sciberras, H. Bugeja (64 Y. Carabott).
Referee S. Ghisletta (Switzerland).
Yellow cards Farrugia, Danelia.
The Malta women’s national team assured itself of its best ever finish in a qualifying campaign for a major tournament after outclassing Georgia 4-0 in Tbilisi.
Haley Bugeja was the star performer for the national team as the Sassuolo striker registered a spectacular hat-trick on just her eighth appearance with the senior team.
On the other hand, midfielder Shona Zammit could not have marked her 50th cap in a better way having scored Malta’s opener goal.
With the three points gained, Mark Gatt’s girls have now moved to seven points, the highest tally ever achieved in a qualifying campaign, and are level with Israel in fifth place, ahead of their direct clash against the Israeli on Monday.
It was a dominant performance by the women in red who in the process preserved a clean sheet for the first time in this qualifying group.
It took some time for both teams to shake off their nerves and start to impose their game.
Georgia came out pressing high while the Maltese team was looking to circulate the ball around in search of some space between the channels.
Malta threatened first when Bugeja made inroads inside the area, but her effort was deflected into corner.
As time went by, Malta gradually started to dominate proceedings forcing Georgia to constantly foul to break down the offensive plays.
Shona Zammit came close to put Malta ahead but failed to capitalise on a Rachel Cuschieri cross from the left as Gatt’s team continued to force play upfront.
Minutes later, captain Dorianne Theuma had an effort off target from a set-piece.
Malta broke the deadlock on 34 minutes when forward Bugeja darted into the box before spotting the unmarked Shona Zammit who capitalised from point-blank range to net her fifth goal for the national team.
Georgia’s reaction came swiftly when Ana Jojua let fly a long-range shot that flew over the bar.
Nonetheless, Malta doubled their lead just before the half-time whistle when Mġarr skipper Brenda Borg found former team-mate Bugeja inside the box and the latter marked her second goal of the campaign with a curling effort.
After the break, Malta could have wrapped up the win after Maria Farrugia ran towards goal but squandered a glorious chance in front of goal.
However, Gatt’s team still found a third through a spectacular solo effort from Bugeja who beat two opponents before firing past Georgia’s custodian for her second goal of the game.
The Sassuolo forward secured her first ever national team hat-trick in some style on 58 minutes, she cut the backline with another trademark run before slotting past Tatia Gabunia.
Twenty minutes from time, substitute Maria Farrugia had an effort on goal as the Maltese were determined to increase their lead.
The Maltese remained on top and easily administered their advantage until the end to secure a famous win in Tbilisi.