Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Spirited Malta go down to fifth-ranked Sweden
Feb 23, 2021
Posted in:
General
Women's Friendlies
PHOTO: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
PHOTO: Domenic Aquilina/MFA

VISITMALTA WOMEN’S TROPHY
 23/02/2021 – HIBERNIANS STADIUM


 

MALTA     0
SWEDEN 3

 

A spirited Malta women’s team ended their VisitMalta Women’s Trophy commitments with a 3-0 defeat to favourites Sweden, ranked fifth in the world.


Sweden, semi-finalists in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, forged ahead after 19 minutes with a fortunate deflection by Real Madrid player Kosovare Asllani. The Swedes had to wait until the second half to score two more goals through Olivia Schough’s direct corner and a Nathalie Bjorn header.

 

For Mark Gatt, this was his 50th game in charge since taking over in 2015. The Malta coach handed the captaincy to Charlene Zammit while Rachel Cuschieri and Emma Xuereb collected their 70th and 60th cap respectively.

 

It was a respectable performance by the Maltese who were missing several key players and coming from a 4-0 defeat to Slovakia in their opening game. It was another useful test for the Maltese girls against one of the top women’s sides in world football. Sweden outclassed Austria 6-1 in their first match of the tournament.

 

Sweden’s first chance came inside the first two minutes when Janice Xuereb denied Kosovare Asllani from close range. The Swedes continued to dominate proceedings but the Maltese girls remained compact and were closing down all passing channels.

 

Sweden came close to taking the lead through Johanna Rytting but she failed to head home from point blank. Xuereb thwarted Asllani on the 11th minute when the Real Madrid player attempted an overhead kick but the Birkirkara custodian was alert to avert the danger.

 

While the Maltese continued to break down Sweden’s attacking drives, the Swedes were looking for other solutions with Rebecka Blomqvist attempting a curling effort just to be inches wide. Nonetheless, the Swedes managed to break the deadlock when Asllani deflected an Emma Kullberg’s shot past Xuereb on the 19th minute.

 

Malta’s reaction came swiftly when Shona Zammit fired a shot from the edge of the area but goalkeeper Jennifer Falk managed to block her effort.

 

The Swedes pressed high, leaving aches of space behind them as the Maltese were looking to strike on the break, doing so a couple of times with the runs of Brenda Borg and Maria Farrugia behind the lines.

 

The Scandinavians continued to push for a second, with efforts from Rytting and Stina Blackstenius failing to pay dividends for Sweden. Despite the technical discrepancy between the two teams, Malta was still managing to creating opportunities as Borg let fly a strike from long-range just to see her effort sail over the bar.

 

At the break, Sweden made a couple of changes with Olivia Schough and Mimmi Larsson coming on as they reshuffled their attacking department. On the hour mark, Sweden doubled the lead when Schough whipped an inswinging corner towards goal which went straight into the net.

 

Sweden coach Peter Gerardsson continued to introduce his best players, including captain Caroline Seger and Lina Hurtig in search of more goals. The latter, who plays for Juventus, struck a header towards goal but Xuereb denied her as the Maltese remained compact and focused midway into the second 45 minutes. Hurtig threatened again, this time hitting the post with another towering header.

 

Fifteen minutes from time, Nathalie Bjorn missed the target from the penalty box following a corner while Hurtig remained Sweden’s biggest aerial threat with another missed header from close range.

 

The Swedes found a third from a Bjorn’s penalty after Zammit fouled Larsson inside the box.

 

MALTA
J. Xuereb, S. Farrugia, C. Zammit, A. Said, A. Sultana, N. Sciberras, S. Zammit, R. Cuschieri, E. Xuereb (65 V. Mifsud), M. Farrugia, B. Borg.

 

SWEDEN

J. Falk, E. Kullberg, K. Asllani (46 O. Schough), S. Blackstenius (64 L. Hurtig), N. Bjorn, J. Rybrink, J. Roddar (64 A. Nilden), H. Bennison (76 F. Angeldal), J. Rytting, R. Blomqvist (46 M. Larsson), F. Curmark (64 C. Seger).
 

Referee Maria Sole Ferrieri Caputi (Italian FA).

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