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All to play for after Malta draw, Latvia win in Women’s Nations League

Malta, Latvia to clash in Tuesday’s League C showdown at the Centenary Stadium.

MOLDOVA              0

MALTA                    0


M. Panova; A. Sivolobova, M. Badiceanu, F. Gutu, V. Virlan, A. Cernitu (61 C. Musteata), A. Toma, C. Tabur (90 E. Coceanovschi), N. Colesnicenco, C. Chipher, V. Cojuhari (78 M. Catarau).


J. Xuereb; E. Xuereb, S. Farrugia, E. Lipman, A. Said, B. Borg, N. Sciberras, R. Cuschieri, M. Farrugia (87 K. Willis), H. Bugeja, Y. Carabott (46 A. Sultana).

Referee Louise Thompson (Northern Ireland FA).

Yellow cards Gutu, Virlan. Chipher.

Red card Felicia Gutu (Moldova) 81.

Malta failed to produce a winning performance against Moldova to put their UEFA Women’s Nations League promotion on the line in Tuesday’s showdown with Latvia.

The Maltese team entered the Moldova game with a two-point lead above Latvia after the Baltic side eased past Andorra 4-0 in an early kick-off game.

Following the goalless draw in Chisinau, Malta now hold a three-point gap over Latvia in their League C group.

In Tuesday’s home encounter at the Centenary Stadium, a draw would be enough for Tesse’s side to move into League B while Latvia need at least a narrow 1-0 victory to pip Malta into the promotion spot due to a better goal difference.

Malta’s coach Manuela Tesse kept faith with the starting formation that defeated Andorra in their latest tournament outing, in the previous window.

On the other hand, Moldova had Mġarr United’s fullback Anastasia Sivolobova forming part of the defensive back four.

The Maltese side made their intentions clear with vertical plays in the final third but it was Moldova who recorded the game’s first chance.

Anastasia Toma picked up a ball outside the area before seeing her effort blocked by goalkeeper Janice Xuereb.

Moments later, Nadia Colescnicenco tried her luck with a long-range freekick but it was not enough to beat Malta’s Xuereb between the sticks.

Haley Bugeja recorded Malta’s first chance when Maria Farrugia teed her up with a through ball but the Inter forward missed the target from a tight angle.

Moldova came close to forging ahead when Claudia Chipher pounced on Stephania Farrugia’s mistake before seeing Xuereb divert her low drive into a corner.

From the resultant set piece, Toma fired over the bar from inside the penalty area.

Sampdoria’s Rachel Cuschieri tried to test Margarita Panova from a freekick position but the Maltese player sailed her effort over the bar.

Immediately after, Xuereb came to Malta’s rescue when she kept Tabur at bay from inside the penalty area.

At the restart, Malta’s coach Manuela Tesse replaced forward Ylenia Carabott with Birkirkara’s winger Alishia Sultana.

Cuschieri squandered a glorious opportunity to put Malta ahead when she missed the target from practically in front of the goalkeeper after receiving from Maria Farrugia.

Moldova replied through Tabur, their most dangerous player on the field, with a curling effort just to be inches wide.

A Bugeja’s attempt to volley a Sultana cross was not enough to beat Panova as Malta was still probing for the leading goal.

Banking on their shooting abilities was becoming an option as well for Malta with midfielder Nicole Sciberras firing a strike towards goal but was not enough to break the deadlock.

Cuschieri followed suit with an effort of her own but once again Malta failed to forge ahead.

Ten minutes from time, Malta was handed a huge boost after Moldova’s Felicia Gutu was given the marching orders following a second yellow card offence.

Inevitably, the onus was even more on Malta to step up and snatch a late win with Brenda Borg striking first from long distance, but it was in vain.

Despite Malta’s last-ditch efforts, Moldova remained tactically organised to keep Malta at bay and score just their second point of the campaign, leaving Malta’s promotion hopes hanging ahead of Tuesday’s big game against Latvia.

Standings provided by Sofascore

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