Malta came back from a goal down to beat Latvia 2-1 in the final match from Group C1 of the UEFA Women’s Nations League at the Centenary Stadium to win the group and secure a historic promotion to League B.
The girls in red needed a draw to secure promotion but following a goalless first half, the visitors took the lead courtesy of a penalty but Malta, inspired by an excellent Maria Farrugia who was included as a substitute in the beginning of the second half, scored twice to collect the three points.
Malta remained unbeaten in the group winning five out of the six matches played, dropping the only points in a draw in Moldova. Latvia finish second on ten points, followed by Andorra on 4 and Moldova 3.
The locals had the first attempt at goal on the 15th minute when Kailey Willis concluded a good move with a shot from outside the area which ended just wide. Malta threatened once again on the 28th when off a cross by Haley Bugeja, an overhead kick by Kailey Willis scraped past the post. Latvia replied with an assist by Anna Kristina Gorilla for Katrina Miksone whose diagonal shot ended just wide. One minute in added time, Rachel Cuschieri tested goalkeeper Enija Anna Vaivode with a corner from the left but her attempt was turned into another corner.
Latvia forged ahead five minutes in the second half when they were awarded a penalty after Stephanie Farrugi was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the area and from the penalty spot, Katrina Miksone converted.
Malta levelled matters on the 58th minute. Substitute Maria Farrugia concluded a good move by releasing Rachel Cuschieri on the left and off the latter’s cross, Kailey Willis headed the ball home in style past Vaivode.
Haley Bugeja, served on the left by Maria Farrugia, had a diagonal shot from the left ending just wide on the 66th.
Six minutes later, Malta made it 2-1. Rachel Cuschieri served Maria Farrugia on the right and the latter rounded a defender before blasting the ball past the Latvian goalkeeper.
Latvia hit back with attempts by Miksone and Sevcova which were neutralised by Janice Xuereb and following a corner from the right by Sevcova on the 82nd, Zaicikova had another shot parried by the Malta goalkeeper.
MALTA Janice Xuereb, Ann-Marie Said, Emma Lipman, Stefania Farrugia, Rachel Cuschieri, Alicia Sultana (46’ Maria Farrugia), Kailey Willis, Brenda Borg, Emma Xuereb, Nicole Sciberras (77’ Shona Zammit), Haley Bugeja.
LATVIA Enija-Anna Vaivode, Anna Flakse (74’ Diana Suvitra), Paula Linina, Viktorija Zaicikova, Anastasija Poluhovica, Anastasija Rocane, Sandra Voiranew, Olga Sevcova, Anna Kristine Gornela, Anna Valaki, Karlina Miksone.
Referee: Rita Vehapi KOS
Assistant Referees: Lumturije Muhadri, Fitore Govori KOS
Fourth Official: Festina Koxha KOS
Source: Malta Football
Photo: Malta Football