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Saturday 18 August 2018

Norway punish sloppy Ireland

SURGING RUN: Ireland’s Leanne Kiernan skips past Norway’s Synne Skinnes Hansen (l)
and Ingrid Wold during the Women’s World Cup qualifier at Tallaght Stadium yesterday. Pic: Sportsfile
SURGING RUN: Ireland’s Leanne Kiernan skips past Norway’s Synne Skinnes Hansen (l) and Ingrid Wold during the Women’s World Cup qualifier at Tallaght Stadium yesterday. Pic: Sportsfile

Ireland Women's World Cup hopes hang by a thread after they were out-classed by Norway in Tallaght.

The Girls in Green will travel to Norway for the return fixture on Tuesday knowing that, to have any real hope of making it to France next year, they must overturn a quality side.

Ireland will look back on last night's defeat with plenty of regrets as their repeated sloppy defending at set-pieces was ultimately their undoing.

Lisa-Marie Utland struck in either half to leave Ireland needing a minor miracle to qualify for a major tournament for the first time.

Player of the match Denise O'Sullivan however fully believes that her side can get the win they need in Norway.

GIRLS IN GREEN: Ireland’s Louise Quinn and matchday mascot Freya Fitzpatrick O’Doherty take to the field prior to the Women’s World Cup qualifier against Norway at Tallaght Stadium. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
GIRLS IN GREEN: Ireland’s Louise Quinn and matchday mascot Freya Fitzpatrick O’Doherty take to the field prior to the Women’s World Cup qualifier against Norway at Tallaght Stadium. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

"I think so, especially from Leanne's chance in the second half, that gives us confidence that we know we can get those chances," a disappointed O'Sullivan said.

"We hit a few free-kicks in there, great balls in, and there was nothing on the end of them. We have to be better with our movement and we have to finish those.

"Absolutely, we have to win. There is no doubt about it. So we'll go out and attack them. We'll still stay disciplined and we'll still stay compact and try to beat them on the counter."

Having worked so hard for the opening 20 minutes, manager Colin Bell was furious by the manner in which his side conceded the opener.

Guro Reiten's corner was headed in by Utland, who was given far too much space inside the six-yard box.

Reiten almost doubled the lead nine minutes later but her shot came back off the cross-bar with Ireland 'keeper Marie Hourihan beaten all ends up.

The hosts' chances weren't helped when Louise Quinn broke her nose 10 before the break, and is now a major doubt for Tuesday. Ireland had their best opportunity of the game three minutes after the restart when they counter-attacked and Leanne Kiernan showed superb pace to breeze passed a couple of defenders, but when in front of goal, her tame low shot lacked conviction, and was easily saved.

The miss was compounded when Norway doubled their lead just after the hour mark when Utland capitalised on more sloppy Irish defending from a set-piece to fire home from close range.

Reiten almost made it 3-0 late on, while Karen Duggan flashed a volley over the bar, which summed up Ireland's frustrations on a night when their World Cup dream was put in serious doubt.

Ireland: M Hourihan; S Perry-Campbell, L Quinn (C O'Riordan 36), D Caldwell, A O'Gorman; N Fahey (A Barrett 70), T Toland; K Duggan, D O'Sullivan, K McCabe (capt); L Kiernan.

Norway: I Hjelmseth; I Wold, M Mjelde (capt), M Thorisdottir, S Skinnes Hansen; C Graham Hansen (V Boe Risa 70), F Maanum, I Syrstad Engen, G Reiten; L-M Utland (E Thorsnes 76), I Herlovsen (S Jensen 89).

REF: K Monzul (Ukraine)

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