Finland defeat Ireland in hammer blow to European championship hopes

Finland defeat Ireland in hammer blow to European championship hopes
Ireland goalkeeper Emma Byrne is beaten as Finland score their first goal of the game. Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Republic of Ireland 0 Finland 2

Ireland’s chances of making a first European women’s championships took a hammer blow in Tallaght stadium.

The Irish women got their campaign to make Euro 2017 off to a terrible start with two defensive mistakes giving Finland a two nil victory.

Sue Ronan’s side had been hopeful of a good start as they aim for a least second place in Group Two of Euro 2017 qualifying and a playoff spot for the Netherlands.

Goals from Emma Koivisto and a second half Linda Sallstrom header sealing the points for Finland who take the driving seat for one of the top two spots in Group Two

It could have been oh so different for the Irish had Denise O’Sullivan not scuffed her 12 minute shot, having collected a gift from Anna Westerlund.

Denise O'Sullivan, Republic of Ireland, in action against Annika Kukkonen, Finland.
Denise O'Sullivan, Republic of Ireland, in action against Annika Kukkonen, Finland.

The visitors made Ireland pay less than 60 seconds later, taking the lead through Emma Koivisto although Irish skipper Emma Byrne must take most of the blame.

The Arsenal keeper was left flapping as Koivisto’s cross come shot took a deflection off Sophie Perry and looped into the Irish net.

The Irish skipper earning her 119th cap redeemed herself somewhat on 21 minutes, going full length to prevent Annika Kukkonen 30 yard drive.

Katie McCabe cracked open the Finnish defence four minutes before the break, releasing Aine O’Gorman into space to shoot from the edge of box.

Korpela quick reactions flicked away O’Gorman’s drive, Denise O’Sullivan reaction to the loose ball, blocked by Koivisto yards from the line, Ireland’s best first-half chance.

The introduction of Ruesha Littlejohn just before half time saw Ireland’s midfield come together, after Coach Sue Ronan shuffled her pack with Megan Campbell’s first half injury.

Littlejohn came closest to the Irish grabbing an equaliser 10 minutes into the second half, Korpela tipping over Littlejohn’s side footed edge of the box effort.

Denise O’Sullivan headed wide just after the hour mark, connecting with Maebh DeBurca’s right wing cross as the Irish continued to pressure the Finnish goal.

Linda Sallstrom headed home Finland’s second against the run of the play with 20 minutes of the game remaining.

Tuija Hyyrnen expert near post corner picked out the unmarked Sallstrom who powered her header past the helpless Byrne from close range.

The second goal took the wind out of the Irish sails, and even with the introduction of Stephanie Roche and Katie McCabe the Irish struggled through the final stages.

Roche’s hopeful punt nearly found Katie McCabe though good reactions from Korpela saved the Finns.

Siobhan Killeen opened up the Finn’s four minutes before the end, Diane Caldwell could only find the side-netting.

Finland celebrate their second goal scored by Katri Mattsson of Finland. Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
Finland celebrate their second goal scored by Katri Mattsson of Finland. Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Ireland: Byrne, DeBurca, Quinn, Campbell (LittleJohn 43), Perry, Caldwell, Fahey, O’Sullivan, Russell (Killeen 70), O’Gorman (Roche 71), McCabe

Subs not used: Burke, Duggan, Murray, Shine

Finland: Korpela, Koivisto, Westerlund, Hyyrynen, Mattsson, Heroum, Kukonen, Alanen, Kuikka, Engman (Kemppi, 87), Sallstrom, Mattsson,

Subs Not Used: Meriluoto, Saari, Oling, Danielsson, Tnturi, Ruutu

Referee: Janna Adamkova (Czech Rep)

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