BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA 1
The Malta national team were left to rue their missed chances as Mark Gatt’s girls succumbed to a Maja Jelcic’s first-half goal that earned Bosnia the win at the BH Training Centre.
Both sides had their moments in the match, with Malta failing to capitalise on three major opportunities in the first half that could have swung the match in their favour.
With this win Bosnia have joined Malta on the four-point mark after six matches with the national team now set to host Denmark and Russia in their next qualifying commitments in April.
Bosnia’s Marija Milinkovic created the first chance of the game with a long-range effort that flew over.
Malta goalkeeper Janice Xuereb was then alert to keep out Dajana Spasojevic’s long-range strike.
The visitors finally threatened moments later, when in a quick transition, Rachel Cuschieri failed to slide the ball past the Bosnia goalkeeper.
Bosnia were struggling to break down Malta’s defensive line and were relying on their shooting options, with captain Nikolic trying to find the target with another long-range effort but to no avail.
In the 23rd minute, Bugeja squandered a golden opportunity when she sailed the ball over the bar from inside the penalty area after a well-weighted cross from Charlene Zammit.
Past the half-hour mark, Bosnia had a couple of quick chances through Spasojevic and Jelena Koprena but both efforts were halted by Malta’s custodian Xuereb.
Bosnia’s forward Jelcic also missed a great scoring opportunity when she fired wide from close-range.
Yet, she was not to be denied on 36 minutes when she pounced on a loose ball from a corner action before firing past Xuereb.
Malta’s reply came swiftly when Cuschieri struck a shot from the edge of the area but failed to hit the target.
On the restart, Gatt replaced Borg with Maria Farrugia moved upfront to partner Bugeja upfront.
The Maltese started on the front foot, with captain Emma Lipman having an effort on goal with a towering header but could not beat Bosnia’s goalkeeper Envera Hasanbegovic.
On the hour mark, Sofija Krajsumovic almost doubled Bosnia’s lead but her effort was deflected into a corner.
Malta could have levelled terms through Bugeja but after darting into the box, the Sassuolo forward saw her low drive blocked by the Bosnia goalkeeper.
Eight minutes from time, Xuereb came to Malta’s rescue with a brilliant stop on talisman Nikolic.
Jelcic almost scored, again from a corner-kick, but this time her rebound sailed over the bar.
Krajsumovic could have sealed the win for Bosnia when she let fly a thumping volley that came off the bar.
In the closing stages, Malta tried to step up the pressure in search of an equaliser but Bosnia held on for the win.
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: E. Hasanbegovic; M. Hasanbegovic, D. Spasojevic (54 D. Velagic), M. Milinkovic, M. Nikolic, S. Kapetanovic, M. Jelcic (90 N. Vujadin), E. Taslidza (62 M. Gacanica), J. Koprena (90 A. Bojanic), S. Krajsumovic, G. Sliskovic.
MALTA: J. Xuereb; A. Said, E. Lipman, S. Farrugia, D. Theuma (67 E. Xuereb), R. Cuschieri, S. Zammit, C. Zammit, B. Borg (46 M. Farrugia), N. Sciberras, H. Bugeja.
Referee: Gamze Durmus Pakkan (Turkey FA).