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Spirited Birkirkara women lose narrowly to Slovan Bratislava

SLOVAN BRATISLAVA 1
Hrdicklova 93

BIRKIRKARA 0

(after extra-time)

Slovan Bratislava
M. Geletova; T. Mrockova, M. Bytcankova, S. Cernakova, B. Vargova, V. Hankova, V. Ceriova, M. Svecova, S. Skerdova, S. Semanova (80 P. Hrdlickova), K. Tipulova.

Birkirkara
J. Xuereb; V. Rapa (68 M. Fenech), S. Farrugia, C. Zammit, Y. Bajada, G. Zahra, A. Said, R. Giusti (85 F. Fartaria), T. Teuma. A. Sultana, V. Mifsud (85 M. Cardona).

Referee: Valentina Finzi (Italy FA).

Yellow cards: Geletova.

An early goal in extra-time denied Birkirkara the chance to finish third in their Group 2 qualifier of the UEFA Women’s Champions League, in Glasgow.

Slovan Bratislava scored three minutes after the start of the extra 30 minutes and managed to keep Birkirkara at bay to secure the win.

It was a spirited performance by the Stripes who were the better side in the first half, creating also a number of goal-scoring opportunities that could have turned the tides of this game in their favour.

Bratislava, champions of the Slovak women’s league, increased their intensity in the second half with second-half entry Pavlina Hdricklova handing her side the victory.

The Stripes have now wrapped up their participation in this year’s edition after Wednesday’s game against Glasgow City and Saturday’s tie against Bratislava.

Birkirkara almost had the perfect start when Stephania Farrugia pounced onto a goalkeeper mistake after a corner-kick, to slot the ball into the net inside the first minute. However, Farrugia’s celebration was cut short after the goal was disallowed for a foul on the Slovan Bratislava’s custodian.

The teams were exchanging possession but Birkirkara were slightly more dangerous with Raina Giusti’s runs from the left-flank with Tereza Mrockova struggling to contain the Maltese player, but the Stripes were still looking to make their pressure count.

Bratislava had their first shot on target through Stela Semanova which forced Janice Xuereb into action to deny her.

On minute 38, Giusti had a long-range shot on target but the Bratislava goalkeeper was alert to avert the danger.

In the closing stages of the first half, Monika Bytcankova headed a corner-kick towards Xuereb as the Malta goalkeeper managed to clear the danger.

Moments later, a Gabriella Zahra shot from the edge of the area was saved by Martina Geletova, Bratislava’s goalkeeper before Semanova almost put Bratislava ahead when a Xuereb’s kick hit her and ricocheted over Xuereb just to roll inches wide from goal.

Scoreless stalemate at half-time as Slovan Bratislava and Birkirkara were vying for a third place finish.

Inside the first five minutes after the interval, Veronique Mifsud almost stunned Slovan Bratislava goalkeeper with a thumping volley but Geletova managed to divert into the corner.

From the resultant set-piece, Birkirkara came close to forge ahead but Zahra’s header was cleared away.

As the second half wore on, Slovan Bratislava started to inch their way up the field whereas Birkirkara were looking to catch their opponents on the break.

However, chances were still at a premium in this second part of the game.

Xuereb came to Birkirkara rescue when Skerdova struck a shot from a tight angle to keep the Stripes into the game.

Seven minutes from time, substitute Pavlina Hdrlickova tried her luck from long-range but her shot was smothered by Xuereb.

The Slovak side were looking to snatch a late winner but their efforts were in vain as the teams headed into the additional 30 minutes of extra-time.

Birkirkara’s defensive resiliency was immediately cancelled as Bratislava struck early in extra-time through Hdrlickova who headed the ball over Xuereb.

The Stripes tried to stage a reaction to level terms but while they were trying to pile the pressure on their opponents, Bratislava managed to hold on to their goal and secure third place in this qualifying mini-group.

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