Maria Farrugia 81; Stephania Farrugia 90
Nikolic 5; Jelcic 33
P. Ebejer; N. Sciberras, S. Farrugia, C. Zammit, A. Sultana, S. Zammit, E. Lipman, B. Borg (66 B. Borg), D. Theuma, R. Cuschieri, M. Farrugia.
D. Haracic; N. Dijakovic, M. Hasanbegovic, D. Velagic, D. Spasojevic (76 M. Damjanovic), M. Milinkovic, M. Nikolic, S. Kapetanovic, M. Medic (90 A. Grebenar), A. Krso, M. Jelcic.
Referee: Lina Lehtovaara (Finland).
The Malta women’s national team produced a solid showing to earn their first point in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup following their 2-2 draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina at the Centenary Stadium.
This was a massive result for Malta who managed to secure its second positive result in eight competitive games against Bosnia, its first since 2006.
It was the first time the Malta women’s national team was playing in front of the home fans since their UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 qualifier against Bosnia, in February 2020.
In a repetition of that match, Bosnia opened a two-goal in the first half, but Malta’s fighting spirit allowed them to remain in the game in the hope of salvaging a draw.
Maria Farrugia’s brilliant strike boosted Malta’s hopes of a dramatic comeback in the last ten minutes of the game.
Late in the game, defender Stephania Farrugia found Malta’s equaliser from a corner-kick to wrap up this first double-header with a well-deserved point.
Next month, the Maltese women will be travelling to Russia and Azerbaijan for their next two games.
Malta coach Gatt deployed Patricia Ebejer in goal instead of the injured of Janice Xuereb.
Bosnia, on their part, started with their strongest formation including captain Milena Nikolic who plays at Bayer Leverkusen.
Bosnia made their intentions clear from the start when Maja Jelcic directed a corner towards goal just to see her effort blocked on the goal line by the Maltese back line.
Moments later, Marija Milinkovic attempted a header from another corner-kick but the ball sailed over the bar.
Bosnia managed to forge ahead after five minutes through captain Nikolic who pounced on a loose ball to strike into the back of the net from close-range.
Malta’s reaction came swiftly through a Brenda Borg shot from the edge of the area but Bosnia goalkeeper Dijana Haracic was alert to avert the danger.
On the half-hour mark, Melisa Hasanbegovic had another effort on goal from a corner-kick but could not direct the ball towards goal.
Three minutes later, forward Maja Jelcic struck Bosnia’s second when she pounced on a Malta mistake before firing past Patricia Ebejer to extend her team’s lead.
Nikolic, who is also captain at Bayer Leverkusen, tried to extend Bosnia’s lead but Ebejer was alert to block her close-range header.
Midfielder Rachel Cuschieri, who is on the books of Lazio, almost pulled one back from Malta but Bosnia’s custodian denied her from inside the penalty area.
On the brink of half-time, Nikolic fired wide before Dorianne Theuma tried her luck from a free-kick but it went in vain as Malta were trailing by two goals at the end of the first 45 minutes.
At the restart, Farrugia let fly a shot from the edge of the area but goalkeeper Haracic managed to block it.
Nikolic replied with a close-range free-kick but failed to hit the target before Jelcic tried her luck with a curling effort but to no avail.
Ebejer came to Malta’s rescue when she diverted a Merjema Medic’s thumping volley into corner.
Bosnia continued to pile pressure on the Maltese and they came close to make it count when Nikolic struck the crossbar with a low drive from inside the box.
Moments later, Ebejer was forced into action again when she denied Jelcic from close-range.
Malta answered with a Theuma effort but Haracic managed to block her first timer into corner.
Stephania Farrugia tried to threaten with a trademark header from a corner-kick situation but could not find the target as Malta was still looking to reduce the deficit.
Ten minutes from time, Maria Farrugia stunned Bosnia with a shot from the edge of the area that lobbed over Haracic to pull one back for Malta to the delight of the Maltese fans.
When the game seemed destined for a Bosnia win, Stephania Farrugia capitalised from a late corner-kick as Malta managed to secure its first point in these World Cup qualifications.