Defeat to Norway sees Republic of Ireland drop to third-place in group

Defeat to Norway sees Republic of Ireland drop to third-place in group
Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team suffered a 2-0 defeat to Norway in their 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifier, in Tallaght Stadium.

Friday’s loss sees the team drop to third-place in Group 3, two points behind Norway, with the Netherlands a further point ahead in top spot.

The visitors took the lead in the 21st minute. Striker Lisa-Marie Utland got her head on the end of a Norwegian corner. Her header flew over Hourihan and into the back of the net.

Buoyed by their opening goal, Norway could have doubled their lead on the half-hour mark. Hesitancy in the Ireland defence saw Isabell Herlovsen back-heel the ball towards an onrushing Guro Reiten, whose shot flew off the crossbar.

Colin Bell’s side suffered another blow before the break. Defender Louise Quinn had to be substituted after breaking her nose in a collision. She was replaced by Claire O’Riordan.

Ireland were lucky not to concede moments before the break. Norway’s Herlovsen had another decent opportunity, but her header flew wide.

After the break, Ireland started much the stronger on front of over 3,100 fans. Leanne Kiernan consistently troubled the Norwegian defence. A mazy run, saw the striker beat three opponents, but her shot from the edge of the box was comfortably saved by Ingrid Hjelmseth.

Despite an impressive start, Ireland conceded their second goal of the game on the hour mark. Unable to clear the ball from a free-kick, Utland scored her second off the game, slamming the ball home from close range.

As Ireland searched for an elusive goal, Norway were able to go on the counter-attack. With ten minutes to go, a three-player overlap couldn’t result in a goal, with Herlovsen’s tame effort being easily saved by Hourihane.

Karen Duggan volleyed over in added-time from a Sophie Perry-Campbell cross with one of the last efforts of the game, as Ireland suffered their second successive defeat in the FIFA Women's World Cup Qualifiers.

Speaking after the game WNT Head Coach Colin Bell said his team struggled at times against Norway.

"We conceded from a corner and a free kick. You cannot concede those type of goals and expect to stay in the game. It was really disappointing from that perspective as we had exactly the same problem against the Netherlands.

There is a gap between us and the top teams, and we need to work hard to close that gap. Our players have improved consistently throughout the campaign and they need to keep striving for that improvement.

"If we lose again to Norway, our qualification hopes are over. A draw would be a positive result and as always, we go into every game to win and that has got to be the mentality again."

The two teams meet again next week in the second of their back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifiers on Tuesday evening in Stavanger’s Viking Stadion. Kick-off is at 5pm Irish time.

Republic of Ireland: Marie Hourihan; Sophie Perry-Campbell, Diane Caldwell, Louise Quinn (Claire O’Riordan 36), Aine O’Gorman; Tyler Toland, Niamh Fahey (Amber Barrett 70); Denise O’Sullivan, Karen Duggan, Katie McCabe (capt); Leanne Kiernan.

Norway: Ingrid Hjelmseth; Ingrid Wold, Maren Mjelde (capt), Maria Thorisdottir, Synne Skinnes Hansen; Caroline Graham Hansen (Vilda Boe Risa 70), Frida Maanum, Ingrid Syrstad Engen, Guro Reiten; Lisa-Marie Utland (Elise Thorsnes 76), Isabell Herlovsen (Synne Jensen 90)

Referee: Kateryna Monzul (UKR)

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