Maltese girls beat Kosovo in final World Cup qualifier

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Malta ended their 2019 Women’s World Cup preliminary round commitments on a high note after beating debutants Kosovo 3-1 at the Selman Stermazi Stadium in Tirana.

The Maltese girls finished with a total of four points in Group 2 but missed out on qualification to the group phase with Albania claiming top spot after securing a last-gasp 2-1 win over Greece in the other match.

Having gained only one point from their opening two matches, Malta were determined to chalk up their first win in their last outing.

 Mark Gatt’s girls established a foothold in the match from the start with Apollon Ladies midfielder Rachel Cuschieri breaking the deadlock on 12 minutes.

Malta’s initial dominance produced a second goal on 27 minutes thanks to Jade Flask. Nine minutes later, the Maltese girls all but wrapped up their win when captain Dorianne Theuma added a third.

After the break Malta remained the better side and, with a 3-0 cushion, Gatt made two substitutions by the 63rd minute. Emma Xuereb replaced Cuschieri at the start of the second half and Martina Borg then came on for Flask.

Kosovo scored a consolation goal 10 minutes from time through Blerta Shala but the brave Maltese girls had long secured the three points.

In the other Group 2 game on Tuesday, Furtuna Velaj redeemed herself after missing a penalty as her stoppage-time goal gave Albania a 2-1 win over Greece. Albania won the group with seven points, one more than Greece.