Malta Football Association
Resilient Malta girls make it hard for Italy in qualifier
Oct 4, 2019
Posted in:
U17 - Friendlies

  • PHOTO: Joe Borg/MFA
  • PHOTO: Domenic Aquilina/MFA

04/10/2019 – Centenary Stadium



The Maltese girls produced a bright and resilient performance against the strong Italy team who needed two late goals to take the points from this UEFA Women’s EURO Group B qualifier at the Centenary Stadium.

Led by Mark Gatt, the Maltese team kept the Italians, quarter-finalists at this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, at bay for long stretches, their efforts drawing the appreciation of the sizable crowd who applauded the girls off the pitch after the final whistle.


This solid performance should boost the Malta team’s optimism ahead of their remaining European qualifiers, including next month’s trip to Italy.


Midfielder Dorianne Theuma made her 94th appearance as she captained the Maltese team that included Florentia San Gimignano defender Emma Lipman who was making her Malta debut.


Italy started on the front foot with Stefani Tarenzi wasting a clear chance after just four minutes.


Malta replied in the 12th minute with Shona Zammit’s shot sailing over the bar as the hosts looked to catch the Italians on the break.


On minute 15, Valentina Cernoia saw her long-range effort blocked for a corner by Malta goalkeeper Janice Xuereb who denied the Italy midfielder again moments later


The Birkirkara goalkeeper came to Malta’s rescue again when she averted the danger after a well-struck shot by Aurora Galli.


Even though the Italians were enjoying more possession, they still could not find a way past Malta’s backline, often resorting to long-range efforts. Roma midfielder Manuela Giugliano had another attempt from the distance but she skied her ball high.


Galli and Cernoia were also thwarted by Xuereb as the Maltese remained compact and also had a couple of inviting chances late in the first half.


First, Brenda Borg advanced into the box but her effort was off target and free-kick specialist Theuma tried a curling effort from a set-piece but the Italian goalkeeper was alert to avert the danger.


In the second half, Italy upped the pressure in search of a breakthrough. On the hour, Valentina Giacinti put Tarenzi through on goal but she was again stopped by the inspirational Xuereb.


Juventus forward Cristiana Girelli, who came on at the start of the second half, gave Italy fresh impetus in attack. In the 65th minute she delivered a cross towards Valentina Bergamaschi but the latter could not direct the ball past Xuereb.


Girelli was prominent on 69 minutes as she released Bartoli inside the box and the Roma skipper cut inside before beating Xuereb with a curling shot to give Italy the lead.


Moments later, Girelli almost doubled Italy’s advantage when she went on a solo effort but was unable to conclude in goal.


Deep into stoppage time, Girelli made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after a a cross inside the penalty area came off Lipman’s arm.


Next up for Malta is a double-header against Israel at home and away at Italy, next month.

Janice Xuereb, Stephania Farrugia, Charlene Zammit, Emma Lipman, Jade Flask, Nicole Sciberras (82 Jasmine Vella Turner), Shona Zammit, Dorianne Theuma (59 Ann-Marie Said), Maria Farrugia, Rachel Cuschieri, Brenda Borg (71 Emma Xuereb).
Coach: Mark Gatt.

Laura Giuliani, Valentina Bergamaschi, Sara Gama, Aurora Galli, Gloria Marinelli (46 Cristiana Girelli), Elisa Bartoli (84 Alia Guagni), Stefania Tarenzi (63 Martina Rosucci), Linda Fusetti, Valentina Giacinti, Valentina Cernoia, Manuela Giugliano.

Coach: Milena Bertolini.

Referee: Ivana Projkovska (North Macedonia). 

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