Malta holds Northern Ireland away from home in Women’s European Qualifiers

The Malta Women’s national team kicked-off its commitments in Group B2 of the Women’s European Qualifiers on a positive note after holding Northern Ireland in a goalless draw at Windsor Park in Belfast on Friday.

Malta is playing in League B following the historic promotion from the UEFA Nations League – League C obtained in December.

Photo courtesy of Malta FA

Coach Manuela Tesse opted for her typical formation with Janice Xuereb in goal, Charlene Zammit, Stephania Farrugia, Emma Lipman and Ann-Marie Said in the back, Shona Zammit, Rachel Cuschieri and Brenda Borg in midfield and Alishia Sultana, Maria Farrugia and Haley Bugeja in attack.

As expected, the hosts enjoyed the lion’s share of ball possession but the Maltese gave a brilliant account of themselves to keep the Irish at bay.

After going close with an attempt by Rebecca McKenna, the hosts had shots by Demi Vance blocked by Janice Xuereb. Just before the end of the first half, Simone Magill had a goal disallowed after she was adjudged to have handled the ball. 

Shona Zammit had a shot ending just wide early in the second half and Demi Vance went close for Northern Ireland. Goalkeeper Jackie Burns then performed a good save on Haley Bugeja but Xuereb came to the rescue, saving a Keri Halliday cross shot and then deflecting a Chloe McCarron long-distance effort. The Malta goalkeeper then performed saves on Megan Bell and Emily Wilson.

N. IRELAND: Jackie Burns, Rebecca McKenna, Demi Vance, Nadene Caldwell, Laura Rafferty, Caragh Hamilton (72’ Constance Schofield), Chloe McCarron, Marissa Callaghan (58’ Megan Bell), Simone Magill, Joely Andrews (58’ Keri Halliday), Lauren Wade (89’ Emily Watson).

MALTA Janice Xuereb, Charlene Zammit, Anne-Marie Said, Stephania Farrugia, Emma Lipman (72’ Valentina Rapa), Brenda Borg, Shona Zammit, Rachel Cuschieri, Maria Farrugia, Haley Bugeja (90’ Nicole Sciberras), Alishia Sultana (58’ Kailey Willis).

Referee Maria Marotta ITA

Assistant Referees: Giulia Tempestilli, Nidaa Hader ITA

Fourth Official: Martina Molinaro ITA