Malta secured a first competitive win in dramatic fashion to take the early Group 2 lead along with Armenia while Luxembourg also claimed victory in the preliminary round openers.
Malta, Armenia and Luxembourg were the winners on the opening day of the UEFA Women's EURO 2013 preliminary round while the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia drew 1-1 with Lithuania.
Two one-venue mini-tournaments are being played with the winners progressing to join the 36 highest-ranked qualifying nations in the 14 March group-stage draw. Staging Group 2, Malta secured their first competitive victory in dramatic style in Ta'Qali, captain Rebecca D'Agostino striking in added time for a 1-0 win against Georgia – in a match where Rachel Cuschieri impressed in midfield for the victors along with opposite number Lela Chichinadzde.
"This is full reward for the girls who all worked hard for this win," Malta coach Pierre Brincat told UEFA.com. "I am very satisfied with the wholehearted performance from my team and most of all the determination our girls showed."
Armenia, who meet Georgia on Saturday, defeated the Faroe Islands 1-0 with an eighth-minute Gayane Kostanyan goal, though their opponents had most of the play. Armenia coach Aslanyan Vagharshak said: "I am not satisfied with my team's display. I wanted more and I hope we will get better later in the tournament. The sending-off of Eleonora Davytan [just before half-time] affected our performance."
Luxembourg have the early advantage in Group 1 in Strumica after beating Latvia 2-0. Captain Rosangela Settani converted a penalty on the hour and ten minutes later Pia Berscheid clinched the points.
"We were all over the place in the first half, but that is normal as our team are very young," Luxembourg coach Jean Romain said. "After the interval we were calmer and got a very important victory. Now we are in a very good position and we will try to win both upcominig matches."
They could even qualify on Saturday if they overcome the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Lithuania do not get the better of Latvia after a draw in the other group game this afternoon. In snowy conditions, 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam forward Nataša Andonova shot the hosts, FYROM, into a 21st-minute lead with a powerful long-range effort but with 19 minutes left Sonata Vanagaitė equalised for Lithuania.
FYROM coach Dobrislav Dimovski said: "I think all my players had a great match on a very difficult pitch. We were the better team, but we didn't convert our chances and just didn't have the luck. I hope on Saturday we play in normal conditions and we beat Luxembourg."
by Domenic Aquilina & Aleksandar Radović
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