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Watch: Malta outclass Andorra to bag third straight Women’s Nations League win

Malta's Rachel Cuschieri drives towards the Andorra goal. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

MALTA        5

Bugeja 17, 46

S. Farrugia 23

M. Farrugia 74

Cuschieri 76 pen.

ANDORRA  0

MALTA

J. Xuereb; A. Said, E. Lipman, (78 C. Zammit), S. Farrugia, Y. Carabott (59 M. Farrugia), R. Cuschieri, A. Sultana (59 K. Willis), B.  Borg (71 S. Zammit), E. Xuereb (46 J, Dimech), N. Sciberras, H. Bugeja.

ANDORRA

L. Vazquez; M. Moles (60 L. Martin), N. Rosas, L. Sin (72 T. Armengol), S. Del Barco (46 G. Camin), M. Da Cruz, M. Muelas, M. Ruzafa, E. Goncalves (72 N. Civico), P. Marques, I. Dominguez (46 M. Fernandez)

Referee Meliz Ozcigdem (Turkey FA).

Yellow cards Sin.

A clinical display by Malta handed them a third consecutive win in the UEFA Women’s Nations League, beating Andorra at the Centenary Stadium on Friday.

It was the perfect response by the hosts for Latvia’s 5-0 victory over Moldova earlier in the day as the Baltics trail the Maltese by three points in this group.

Forward Haley Bugeja took centre stage once again with a brace, becoming Malta women’s all-time third top scorer while moving to fifth in both men’s and women’s lists.

For this Andorra encounter, coach Manuela Tesse stuck to the winning guns that defeated Moldova in the previous international window.

Prior to the game, the Malta FA celebrated the players who two decades ago formed the first-ever national team, participating in the UEFA Women’s Euro 2005 qualifying campaign. A splendid touch that reminded the general public in attendance of the pioneers that paved the way for the impressive growth that the new generation has been making.

On the field, it was Andorra with the first opportunity when captain Maria Muelas tested goalkeeper Janice Xuereb who was collecting her 60th cap.

However, it was Malta who drew first blood when Bugeja connected with a well-weighted Ann-Marie Said cross to net her fourth straight goal in this competition.

Moments later, the Maltese doubled their lead when defender Stephania Farrugia, who was making her 91st appearance, headed home from a Said corner to become Malta’s second different scorer in the Nations League campaign.

Andorra replied with a rare occasion through Erica Goncalves who let fly a strike from the edge of the area which gave no trouble to goalkeeper Xuereb.

Bugeja, who plies her trade at Inter, fired wide as the Maltese side was looking to extend its lead before the half-time whistle.

Next up was Alishia Sultana whose close-range effort was diverted into a corner by Andorra’s goalkeeper Luna Vazquez before Brenda Borg, featuring for the 65th time at international level, saw her shot from a tight angle sail over the bar.

Malta international Haley Bugeja celebrates after scoring against Andorra. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

At the restart, Malta made sure of the win when Bugeja picked up the ball from the left wing before curling an effort straight past Vazquez, making it five goals in three games in this competition.

Past the hour mark, coach Tesse deployed Maria Farrugia – making her 35th appearance – and Kailey Willis as Malta maintained its offensive prowess.

Lipman squandered a glorious chance to score Malta’s fourth when she lifted her effort over the bar from point-blank range before Maria Farrugia, who plays with England’s Lewes FC, saw her curled shot glance past Vazquez’s goal.

Midfielder Shona Zammit came on from the bench to bolster Malta’s central department in the final 20 minutes with the Swieqi United midfielder picking her 70th international cap in the process.

Malta netted a fifth one through Rachel Cuschieri, scoring her 14th Malta goal as she is one game away from her 90th cap.

With the three points already in the bag, Tesse replaced captain Lipman with experienced defender Charlene Zammit to come on for Malta for the 90th time.

A brilliant showcase by the Maltese selection which hopes to repeat the same display when the two teams cross swords again in Tuesday’s clash.

OTHER RESULTS: Latvia vs Moldova 5-0.

STANDINGS: Malta 9; Latvia 6; Andorra 3; Moldova 0.

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