Ireland boss Vera Pauw believes her side has “given away” the chance to qualify for Euro 2022 after their 1-0 defeat to Ukraine in Group I this evening.
The Republic's Aine O'Gorman scored a freak own goal after 25 minutes in Kiev while Katie McCabe hit the bar twice, once with a free-kick and again with a penalty. Rianna Jarrett had a shot cleared off the line as well.
All that in the first half alone, but it was not to be.
The defeat leaves Ukraine odds on to pip the Irish to second spot in the pool behind Germany. For Ireland to finish as runners-up would require one of two unlikely occurrences: Ukraine to slip up against Greece on Tuesday, or Montenegro next month, or the Girls in Green to beat the Germans in their last game.
An upset of sorts in Athens, unrealistic as it is, looks to be their main shot at salvation.
“Greece can only take the points if they have the very, very best day and Ukraine has one like us that the ball just doesn't want to go in,” Pauw told RTÉ after the loss in Kiev, “but normally Ukraine will beat Greece and Montenegro.
“The chance to win against Germany (in early December), we need to sit down and make a game plan and we will do everything we can to get a win but we all know how strong Germany is and we feel that we have given it away here.”
It was a deeply frustrating night for the visitors who struggled to impose themselves after the break against a home side that did everything they could to slow down and fragment the game. Ireland's own structure slipped as the tension mounted and the minutes passed before a late siege came up short.
Pauw defended her decision to delay her only two substitutions until the 86th minute and refused to comment on the referee's decision not to award a second yellow card to Lyubov Shmatko for the foul which led to McCabe's missed spot-kick.
Just one of those nights, said the Dutch coach.
“If you write a book about this then you think, 'well, make a more realistic book'. You put an own goal in on a moment you would think it was the easiest thing to solve and you miss a penalty kick just a little bit later during a game against a team that is ranked higher than us.
“We have dominated constantly but they have been very smart in the second-half in provoking us and that gave us less footballing strength onto the pitch. We found it hard to go through the centre when the first-half we had a lot of variety in our attacks.”