Theuma 58; Xuereb 87
A. Sharifova; Z. Mahsimova, A. Ahmadova, M. Mollayeva, A. Dorofeeva, N. Mirzaliyeva, V. Seyfatdinova, A. Aliyeva (75 P. Bozdag), B. Su Koyun (60 D. Mammadova), N. Parlak, K. Bakarandze.
P. Ebejer; C. Zammit, S. Farrugia, E. Lipman, A. Said, N. Sciberras (64 A. Sultana), S. Zammit, D. Theuma (76 E. Xuereb), R. Cuschieri, B. Borg (88 J. Flask), M. Farrugia.
Referee: Reka Molnar (Hungary FA).
Malta recorded its first ever win in a Women’s World Cup qualifier after beating Azerbaijan 2-1 at the ASK Arena, in Baku.
This was an historic result for the Malta women’s national team who are now on four points after their home draw to Bosnia-Herzegovina, last month.
The Maltese team were the better side on the field but had to wait until the second half to forge ahead through Dorianne Theuma. Emma Xuereb, who was a second-half substitute, sealed the victory with a late goal.
Mark Gatt’s girls, ranked 93rd in the world, fully deserved the three points, against an Azeri side who were in pot 4 ahead of these qualifications and sit 78th in the FIFA Rankings.
For this game, coach Gatt made one change with Brenda Borg coming on for Alishia Sultana.
Azerbaijan started to dictate proceedings but Malta still managed to create chances for them with Rachel Cuschieri having a shot on goal from a free-kick just to see the Azerbaijan goalkeeper pushing the ball away after six minutes.
Maria Farrugia had a shot on goal on 20 minutes but the Azerbaijan custodian was once again alert to avert the danger.
Moments later, Theuma tried her luck from the edge of the area but could not break the deadlock.
Azerbaijan replied through Nigar Mirzaliyeva whose header went wide from Patricia Ebejer’s goal.
Malta’s biggest chance of the first half dropped on the feet of Cuschieri when after a well-played combination with Farrugia, the Lazio midfielder entered the box but fired wide from close-range as the opening 45 minutes remained goalless.
At the restart, Theuma had Malta’s first chance when she attempted a thumping volley following a corner-kick action but her effort sailed over the bar.
Malta made their pressure count when Brenda Borg pounced on a Cuschieri through-ball before being floored by the Azeri goalkeeper.
Theuma took charge of the penalty and converted from the spot for her 29th goal with the Malta women’s national team.
Azerbaijan’s reply came from Alina Dorofeeva who let fly a strike from the edge of the area but her effort was smothered by goalkeeper Ebejer.
Ebejer came to Malta’s rescue again when she denied Nazlican Parlak whose header was on target.
Malta wrapped up the victory when Farrugia found substitute Emma Xuereb who made no mistake from close-range.
Deep into stoppage time Azerbaijan pulled a goal back when Vusala Seyfatdinova headed home from a free-kick.
But Malta’s girls kept hold of their nerves to claim the spoils.