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Early goals propel Slovakia to win over Malta women

Stephania Farrugia (left) tackles Slovakia's Veronika Slukova. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

MALTA                      0

SLOVAKIA                4

Slukova 11
Panakova 21
Ondrusova 76
Mikolajova 90

MALTA
J. Xuereb, S. Farrugia, C. Zammit, N. Sciberras, A. Sultana, J. Flask (89 S. Buttigieg), S. Zammit, V. Mifsud (46 A. Said), R. Cuschieri (82 K. Chetcuti), M. Farrugia (69 E. Xuereb), B. Borg (46 M. Borg).

SLOVAKIA
P. Chladekova, A. Biroova (M. Mikolajova 62), K. Panakova, P. Fisherova, P. Hmirova (62 D. Lemesova), K. Kosikova, D. Skorvankova (56 L. Ondrusova), J. Vojtekova, M. Surnovska, V. Slukova (M. Havranova 62).

Referee M. Aufschnaiter (Austria FA).

Malta opened their VisitMalta Women’s Tournament with a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Slovakia, at the Hibernians Stadium.

Slovakia, ranked 45 in the world, took control with two early goals in the first half that propelled them towards victory.

Lucia Ondrusova marked her 100th appearance with a third goal in the second half, her second against Malta as her first-ever at international level came against the Maltese back in 2006. Substitute Maria Mikolajova made it four with a delightful lob deep in stoppage time.

For Malta, ranked number 85 in the world, it was a useful challenge ahead of the upcoming 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers that will commence this September.

Coach Mark Gatt handed the captaincy to Charlene Zammit in the absence of Dorianne Theuma.

Defender Alishia Sultana was making her 40th cap while Rachel Cuschieri and Emma Xuereb, who came on in the second half are one game shy of their 70th and 60th appearance for Malta.

Slovakia made their intentions clear from the start as they dominated the proceedings with their possession in Malta’s own half.

In their first foray, Slovakia forged ahead. Jana Vojtekova whipped in a free-kick towards Veronika Slukova who capitalised and slot the ball past Janice Xuereb.

Malta replied with a Brenda Borg’s backheel effort that was smothered by Slovakia’s goalkeeper Patricia Chladekova.

Moments later, Patricia Hmirova let fly an effort from the edge of the area just to be denied by Xuereb.

In the 21st minute, Kristina Panakova stunned Xuereb with a long-range effort to double the score for Slovakia.

Vojtekova attempted a free-kick that sailed over the bar before Alexandra Biroova almost found a third with a header inside the penalty area.

Panakova and Hmirova threatened Xuereb again with long-range conclusions but the Birkirkara goalkeeper denied the latter with a fantastic save as Malta trailed by two at the break.

At the restart, coach Gatt replaced Veronique Mifsud and Borg with Ann-Marie Said and Martina Borg respectively.

Slovakia had the first chance of the second half, once again through Hmirova whose curling effort went wide past Xuereb’s goal.

Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Past the hour mark, Slovakia struck the woodwork directly from a corner kick taken by Jana Vojtekova as they continued to push for a third.

Slukova forced Xuereb into action when she hit a close-range effort but was denied by Malta’s goalkeeper.

Late in the game, substitue Ondrusova struck a third when she slotted past Xuereb and in stoppage time when substitute Maria Mikolajova surprised the Malta goalkeeper with a fine lob.

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