The Malta women’s national team produced a bright display as they held 19th-ranked Switzerland to a 2-2 draw in a friendly match at the Centenary Stadium.
After a hard-fought first 45 minutes ended goalless, the Maltese twice had to come from behind to peg back a strong Swiss side and record yet another positive result in the second half.
Malta, led by coach Mark Gatt, started the game on a promising note. Haley Bugeja raced towards goal before firing a shot that was saved by Switzerland goalkeeper Seraina Friedli. The Swiss began to see more of the ball but it was the Maltese side who had another attempt on goal – Dorianne Theuma with a trademark free-kick only to be denied by Friedli.
Switzerland's first noteworthy chance fell to striker Irina Pando whose close-range effort was smothered away by Janice Xuereb. The Birkirkara goal-stopper was forced into action when denying captain Malin Gut from the edge of the box. Past the half-hour mark, Switzerland's Lara Marti volleyed a shot from inside the area before Xuereb denied Pando once again.
After the change of ends, Switzerland forged ahead when Pando managed to beat Xuereb with a low drive. Malta's reaction was immediate with Stephania Farrugia equalising following a corner action.
The Swiss regained their lead two minutes later, Pando heading the ball over the on-rushing Xuereb. However, the Maltese team hit back strongly to level the scores through Ylenia Carabott who, after receiving from Haley Bugeja, slotted past the Swiss goalkeeper.
Skipper Theuma almost put Malta ahead but her long-range effort sailed over the bar. Bugeja’s solo effort 15 minutes from time almost paid off but she could not direct the ball into the net.
Gatt handed a debut to Sydney Schembri in the final 10 minutes as Gatt sought put in fresh legs, especially up front. The Swiss tried to press for a late winner but Malta's resilience helped them secure a 2-2 draw.
Mark Gatt’s team face Turkey in another friendly match on Friday also, at the Centenary Stadium (kick-off 15.00).
Janice Xuereb, Nicole Sciberras, Stephania Farrugia, Ann-Marie Said, Jade Flask, Charlene Zammit, Shona Zammit, Dorianne Theuma, Brenda Borg, Haley Bugeja, Ylenia Carabott.
Subs used: Alishia Sultana, Sydney Schembri, Martina Borg, Veronique Mifsud.
Seraina Friedli, Lorena Baumann, Kim Dubs, Carola Fasel, Malin Gut, Lara Marti, Irina Pando, Nathalia Spalti, Julia Stierli, Marilena Widmer, Cinzia Zehnder.
Subs used: Michele Schnider, Leans Zaugg, Arfaoui Amira, Noa Scharz, Nadine Riesen.
Referee: Fyodor Zammit.
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