The Malta women’s national team secured its best finish in a qualifying campaign for a major tournament after outclassing Georgia 4-0 in their penultimate UEFA Women’s EURO Group B qualifier at the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium in Tbilisi on Thursday.
It was a dominant performance by the women in red who scored four times and kept a clean sheet for the first time in this qualifying group. Sassuolo forward Haley Bugeja registered a spectacular hat-trick in her eighth appearance for the senior team while midfielder Shona Zammit could not have marked her 50th cap in a better way as she scored Malta’s opening goal.
Thanks to this win, Malta joins Israel in fourth place on seven points but Israel, Malta’s opponents this coming Tuesday, have a game in hand.
Malta broke the deadlock in the 34th minute when forward Bugeja darted into the box before spotting Shona Zammit who fired home from close range.
On the 44th minute, Malta doubled their lead when Mġarr United skipper Brenda Borg found Haley Bugeja in the box and the latter struck her second goal of the campaign with a curling effort from the edge.
Seven minutes in the second half, Mark Gatt’s team found a third through a solo effort from Bugeja who beat two opponents before firing past the Georgia goalkeeper for her second goal of the game.
The Sassuolo forward secured her first ever national team hat-trick when, on the 58 minutes, she unhinged the backline with another trademark run before slotting past Tatia Gabunia.
Next up for Malta women is a trip to Israel where they will wrap up their Group B campaign this coming Tuesday.
GEORGIA Tatia Gabunia, Gvantsa Kadagishvili, Nino Chkhartishvili, Natia Danelia (71′ Elene Kakianashvili), Teona Bakradze (60′ Anastasia Bolkvadze), Lela Chichinadze, Khatia Tchknoia, Ana Cheminava (79′ Tamari Epitashvili), Nino Sutidze, Teona Todadze (79′ Maiko Bebia), Ana Jojua.
MALTA Janice Xuereb, Emma Lipman (60′ Jade Flask), Stephania Farrugia, Dorianne Theuma (64′ Martina Borg), Rachel Cuschieri (46′ Maria Farrugia), Alishia Sultana, Shona Zammit (76′ Kayleigh Chetcuti), Charlene Zammit, Brenda Borg, Nicole Sciberras, Haley Bugeja (64′ Ylenia Carabott).
Referee: Simona Ghisletta (Switzerland).