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Malta girls go down fighting against Slovakia in Euro qualifiers

MALTA            10

SLOVAKIA       16

(2-2, 1-5, 5-4, 2-5)

The Malta women’s national team put on a gallant display but still was not enough to avoid defeat against group favourites Slovakia in their final European Championship qualifier in Burgas, Bulgaria, on Saturday.

After Friday’s 11-7 defeat against Bulgaria, the Maltese always faced a tall order to overcome the more experienced Slovakians.

But still Aurelien Cousin’s girls did not go down without a fight as they remained in the game till the final quarter of the match to exit the tournament with their heads held high.

The Maltese were on the backfoot in the opening session as the Slovakian side struck twice through Emma Dvoranova and Janka Kurucova put the Eastern Europeans in control.

But the Maltese team refused to buckle as they put on a solid defensive backline and went on to restore parity with goals from Francesca Paolella and Zaira Bartolo to end the quarter level – 2-2.

In the second sessions, the Slovakians stepped up a gear and took firm control of the match with the young Maltese side struggling to keep abreast.

The Slovakians scored five times without reply, through Dina Telypko, Miroslava Stankovianska, Karin Kackova and a brace from Natalia Peckova put them 7-2 ahead.

 Martha Perici Ferrante pulled one goal back before ends were changed to reduce the gap to four goals.

Despite the growing deficit, the Maltese girls kept fighting and in the third session they took the fight to their opponents.

In fact, the Maltese managed to find the Slovakia net five times against their opponents’ four to reduce the gap to 11-8.

Kaia Agius struck twice with the other goals coming from Perici Ferrante, Paolella and Louise Cachia.

Denise Micallef bridged the gap to 11-9 but the Slovakians soon reclaimed grip into the match with quick-fire goals from Martina Kiernoszova (2) and Peckova.

Perici Ferrante netted Malta’s tenth goal but it was the Slovakians who had the final say with goals from Stankovianska and Kovacikova for a comfortable win.

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