HomeSportsNorthern Ireland 0-0 Malta: Hosts frustrated in Euro qualifying opener

Northern Ireland 0-0 Malta: Hosts frustrated in Euro qualifying opener


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It was Malta who had the first attack after the restart when Shone Zammit’s arrowed effort flew narrowly wide of the returning Jackie Burns’ upright.

Northern Ireland almost took the lead when Vance’s cross was spilled by Xuereb on the line and Magill, quickest to the follow up, went down in the area when caught by Alishia Sultana but referee Marotta waved play on.

In truth, Northern Ireland’s creative struggles continued, despite Magill being a stretch away from getting the ball past the onrushing Xuereb from Vance’s through ball.

Oxtoby introduced debutant Connie Scofield in midfield in a bid to add fresh legs, and her lay-off led to McCarron’s long-range effort being well saved by Xuereb.

Northern Ireland continued to press forward late in the game, but Malta, promoted from League C and on a 12-game unbeaten run, held firm.

After optimism ahead of the game, the result means a disappointing start as Northern Ireland look to reach back-to-back Euro finals.

At the full-time whistle, the visiting players celebrated an impressive draw while Northern Ireland looked like a side who knew they had missed an opportunity to build momentum at home.

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