Mark Gatt’s girls attain highest ever placing in Euro qualifiers
Borg 15; Bugeja 58
A. Cohen; M. Been, S. Pearl, S. Nakav (76 M. Sharabi), K. Hazan, L. Falkon, I. Kuznezov, R. Shimrich (61 R Michaeli), K. Sendel, R. Shtainshnaider (75 O. Sofer), N. Selimhodzic.
J. Xuereb; E. Lipman, S. Farrugia, D. Theuma (46 M. Farrugia), R. Cuschieri, A. Sultana (77 E. Xuereb), S. Zammit, C. Zammit, B. Borg (67 Y. Carabott), N. Sciberras, H. Bugeja (90 M. Borg).
Referee I. Projkovska (North Macedonia).
Yellow cards Zammit, Kuznezov, Carabott.
Red card I. Kuznezov (I) 51.
The Malta women’s national team wrapped up its UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 qualifications in style after defeating Israel 2-0 at the Ramar Gan Stadium, in Tel-Aviv.
Led by coach Mark Gatt, Malta finished their campaign to fourth place with a record 10-point tally in Group B, the highest number of points ever gained by the women’s senior side in a qualifying campaign at any stage.
A successful campaign that sheds light on the progress of the women’s game on our shores.
In Israel, the Maltese staged a dominant performance which rarely saw them getting into trouble.
A goal in each half by Brenda Borg and Haley Bugeja helped the Maltese finish their qualification with 11 goals scored, one more than Israel.
In addition, they also secured their second clean sheet in Group B as the Maltese ended up their commitments with a tally of six goals in favour and none against.
It was a bright start by the Maltese girls who after four minutes could have already forged ahead only for Bugeja to fail to capitalise on a Rachel Cuschieri’s cross from the left.
Israel replied through Lee Falkon who attempted an effort from inside the area but the ball sailed over the bar.
The game ebbed and flow with both teams looking for an early lead with the Maltese winning this battle after Brenda Borg’s 15th-minute goal.
It was a well-engineered break started by Stephania Farrugia who immediately found Bugeja wide on the right wing. The Sassuolo forward connected brilliantly with former Mġarr United team-mate Borg as the latter struck her second goal of the qualifying campaign.
Falkon threatened again when her cross-shot was blocked by Janice Xuereb before the Malta backline averted the danger as Malta led by 1-0 at half-time.
At half-time, coach Gatt replaced captain Dorianne Theuma with Sunderland’s Maria Farrugia as Malta were looking to threathen Israel in search of a vital second.
Things got worse for Israel when on 51 minutes, Irena Kuznezov floored Bugeja and was given the marching orders to leave her side with a player down for almost the entire second half.
Malta profited from this situation as seven minutes later, they doubled their lead through Bugeja’s fifth goal of the campaign after receiving from Borg, highlighting their well-oiled chemistry between them.
As the second half wore on, the Maltese continued to dominate proceedings with Israel failing to break down Gatt’s team.
Coach Gatt deployed fresh faces including Gozitan player Emma Xuereb who is now two games away from collecting her 60th cap and Martina Borg on her 40th appearance with Malta.
In the closing stages of the game, Israel looked exhausted with Malta making sure of their third win of the campaign.