Malta Football Association
Clinical Italy overcome Malta in Women’s Euro qualifier
Nov 12, 2019
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As expected, the Malta women’s national team found the going very tough against Group B leaders Italy as the Azzurre emerged 5-0 winners at the Stadio Teofilo Patini, in Castel di Sangro.

Ranked 14th in the world, the Italians are now on 18 points after six wins in as many games played.


Coach Mark Gatt made one change from the team that held Israel to a 1-1 draw as Alishia Sultana came in for Nicole Sciberras in the midfield.


Italy made their intentions clear after four minutes when Daniela Sabatino advanced towards goal but Janice Xuereb blocked her effort.


Moments later, Manuela Giugliano whipped in a low cross from the right-hand side but Sabatino missed the ball as the Malta backline cleared the danger.


Italy were loading the offensive third in search for an early lead but the Maltese girls remained compact and organised, trying to keep the Azzurre at bay.


The Italians' next chance dropped at the feet of defender Elena Linari but her close-range effort sailed over the bar.


The Maltese players were very determined in breaking down the Italians and their efforts almost paid dividends when Maria Farrugia latched on to a through-ball before defender Linari outmuscled her and halted the play.


Cristiana Girelli missed a couple of chances when she headed a corner wide while her shot from inside the box went wide.


Milena Bertolini’s team continued to press with Xuereb coming to the rescue twice, denying Laura Fusetti and Martina Rosucci.


Birkirkara’s shot-stopper was forced into action again when she blocked a Giugliano shot from the edge of the area.


As time started to go by, Italy started to find it more difficult to break down the Maltese and were relying on their long-range shots with Valentina Cernoia testing Xuereb but failing to beat her.


But on the 27th minute, Cernoia was not to be denied as she hit a well-struck free-kick into the far corner to put the Italians one up.


A Girelli shot on the 34th minute was smothered by Xuereb as the hosts continued to pile pressure on the Maltese backline.


Sabatino came close to double the score but she failed to capitalise on a Martina Rosucci cross.


Nonetheless, the Azzurre found their second through Cernoia again whose shot stunned Xuereb.


On the brink of half-time, the 2019 Women’s World Cup quarter-finalists found a third when Sabatino slotted the ball from point-blank range to mount a comfortable lead for the hosts.


The Italians ended the first 45 minutes four up after Giugliano fired a first-timer past Xuereb.


After the restart, coach Gatt made a couple of changes to his team with Nicole Sciberras and Ann-Marie Said coming on.


Italy ended the game with ten players after Giugliano was given the marching orders for entering the field without the referee permission after being treated for an injury in the sidelines.


Italy continued to dominate proceedings and managed to to add to a fifth through Giada Greggi.


Malta returns to action in March with a double-header against Georgia (March 5) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (March 10) on home soil.



Laura Giuliani; Elisa Bartoli (46 V. Bergamaschi), Laura Fusetti, Elena Linari, Lisa Boattin, Martina Rosucci, Manuela Giugliano, Aurora Galli (57 Giada Greggi), Valentina Cernoia, Cristiana Girelli, Daniela Sabatino (68 Stefania Tarenzi).



Janice Xuereb; Stephania Farrugia (46 Nicole Sciberras), Charlene Zammit, Emma Lipman, Jade Flask, Dorianne Theuma, Shona Zammit, Alishia Sultana (72 Emma Xuereb), Dorianne Theuma, Brenda Borg, Maria Farrugia, Rachel Cuschieri (46 Ann-Marie Said).


Referee: Eleni Antoniou (Greece).

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