P. Ebejer, S. Farrugia, C. Zammit (84 G. Zahra), N. Sciberras, J. Flask, E. Lipman, R. Cuschieri, D. Theuma (73 V. Mifsud), S. Zammit, M. Farrugia (73 K. Chetcuti), E. Xuereb (56 R. Zerafa) (84 S. Buttigieg).
A. Krstovic, M. Radunovic, A. Popovic, M. Saranovic, S. Bulatovic, N. Stanovic, J. Karlicic, A. Kuc, H. Bozic, D. Djukic, R. Kocanovic (54 A. Toskovic).
Referee Darryl Agius (Malta FA).
Yellow cards Kocanovic, Stanovic, Bulatovic.
A Jade Flask first-half goal handed the Malta women’s national team a narrow 1-0 victory in their second and final friendly against Montenegro.
It was a much-improved performance from last Thursday’s game against a side that Malta will face twice in the upcoming 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers.
For this game, coach Mark Gatt started Patricia Ebejer between the sticks, whose saves were crucial to help Malta claim the spoils.
Emma Lipman, captaining the side, was making her 10th appearance for Malta. Flask and Dorianne Theuma were handed a start after being second-half entries last week.
It was Malta that took the field in the opening stages of the first half, with Mark Gatt’s side trying to settle down quickly and impose their game in search of an early lead.
Dorianne Theuma tried an effort on goal after 10 minutes when Maria Farrugia chested the ball down only to see her effort sailed over the bar.
However, Montenegro replied through captain Sladjana Bulatovic who attempted a lob over goalkeeper Patricia Ebejer just to be denied by inches.
Moments later, Malta’s custodian came to the rescue when she denied the Montenegro captain from close range before Stephania Farrugia cleared Bulatovic’s rebound on the goal line.
Montenegro started to increase their tempo and on the 24th minute, Nadja Stanovic let fly a shot from outside the penalty area that went just wide past Ebejer’s goal.
Yet, it was the Maltese girls who broke the deadlock when Flask met Dorianne Theuma’s perfectly-weighted corner, to head home Malta’s opener for her fifth goal at international level.
The goal galvanised the Maltese who were now dominating proceedings and were also breaking down their opponents’ backline but could not make their pressure count and double the lead before half-time.
After the interval, Montenegro brought on promising 16-year-old Andela Toskovic to bolster their offensive department as they were looking for a leveller.
On the other hand, coach Gatt handed a debut to Kirkop United forward Rodianne Zerafa midway through the second half.
The Eastern European side squandered a glorious chance to equalise when Stanovic found herself unmarked inside the box but failed to hit the target to the relief of the Maltese team.
Montenegro kept pushing for a goal with Stanovic forcing Ebejer into a spectacular save as she diverted the shot into a corner.
The Mġarr United goalkeeper denied Montenegro from the resultant set-piece as she blocked a close-range header before the Malta backline cleared away.
Montenegro’s pressure was becoming intense but an inspired Ebejer between the sticks was making their life difficult.
The Malta goalkeeper was once again fundamental for her side when she blocked a flurry of quick chances to preserve the narrow lead.
Four minutes from time, Montenegro forward Armisa Kuc found herself in a suitable position in front of Ebejer but once again, the Malta goalkeeper was alert to avert the danger.
In the closing stages, Montenegro were stepping up their ante but Malta’s resilience proved tough to breakdown as the Maltese girls clinched a much-deserved victory.