Haley Bugeja scored three goals in eight minutes late in the first half as Malta defeated Andorra 3-0 in a match from Group C1 of the UEFA Women’s Nations League at the Estadi Nacional in Andorra la Vella on Tuesday.
A win which enables Malta to move five points clear in the group after Latvia could only earn a point in a 3-3 draw with Moldova. Malta face Moldova away from home on December 1 before hosting Latvia four days later.
Malta had a strong start to the game with two consecutive and dangerous corners in the first four minutes. Whilst controlling most of the ball during the first quarter of the first half, the Maltese players failed to create much goal scoring opportunities with most of the play being concentrated at half pitch.
The first goal scoring opportunity for the ladies in white came on the 27th minute, when Borg served Bugeja inside the box, but the latter’s effort ended high above the goalpost. Andorra responded on the 31st minute with a header by Sin which also ended high.
On the 34th minute, a freekick by Said, ended in the Andorran custodian’s hand, with Bugeja protesting for a penalty after being pulled inside the box, but the referee disagreed.
A few minutes later a good effort by Cuschieri from outside the box missed the target. Cuschieri was again brilliant a minute later when she gave a through ball which found Bugeja who in front of the goalkeeper made no mistake putting Malta in the lead on the 36th minute.
Malta continued to press and on the 40th minute a corner taken by Cuschieri, with the Andorra defence failing to clear, Farrugia headed the ball towards Bugeja who once again scored for Malta. Only two minutes later, Bugeja was brought down in the box and this time the referee whistled the penalty. It was Bugeja who took the ball to the penalty spot and scored for the third time in less than six minutes.
The Malta ladies continued their good run in the second half and on the 52nd minute, M.Farrugia was first on the ball after outrunning the Andorra defenders but her lob ended high.
Whilst Malta continued to be superior to the adversary, the game lost in intensity during the last fifteen minutes of play, with Andorra’s efforts in trying to score a consolation goal in front of a home crowd being well managed by the Maltese defence.
Malta was very close to scoring when Mifsud took a dangerous corner, but Lipman’s header was slightly wide. Andorra went close on the 90th minute, but the Maltese defence kept a clean sheet thanks to a great tackle by Zammit.
Andorra L. Vazquez; N. Rosas; L. Sin (J. Domingo Fuentes 45th); S. Del Barco (T. Armengol 63rd); M. Da Cruz; M. Muelas; M. Ruzafa (I. Dominguez 77th); E. Gonçalves; P. Marques; N. Gallinat Civico; M. Tizón Fernández (L. Sole Palau 63rd)
Malta J. Xuereb; A.M. Said (E. Xuereb 71st); E. Lipman; S. Farrugia; Y. Carabott (K. Willis 63rd); R. Cuschieri (D. Theuma 63rd); M. Farrugia (A. Sultana 71st); C. Zammit; B. Borg (V. Mifsud 84th); N. Sciberras; H.Bugeja
Referee: Sofik Torosyan (ARM)