Ireland 0 Finland 2: Ireland’s women suffered an early Euro setback last night against Finland at Tallaght Stadium.
On a damp evening in Dublin, Sue Ronan’s side failed to make a splash in front of goal despite enjoying large chunks of possession in front of a near 3,000 crowd.
The Finns — second seeds in the group — were helped on their way to securing the points through a rare howler by Ireland goalkeeper Emma Byrne on 13 minutes. On the occasion of her 119th cap, the veteran Arsenal stopper allowed Emma Koivisto’s deflected shot spin over her head and into the net.
And the Irish were once again caught out 19 minutes from full-time when Linda Sallstrom was given time and space to power her header home from six yards out.
Ronan set her stall out to attack, especially by handing Katie McCabe her first competitive cap on the wing, and the early signals were encouraging.
Niamh Fahey went close with a ninth-minute effort by smashing over before Denise O’Sullivan wasted a golden chance.
The Glasgow City striker cut out Anna Westerlund’s pass out of defence to race clear on goal but horribly miscued her shot wide with just the goalkeeper to beat. It would prove a costly miss as the visitors grabbed the opener within a minute, albeit in fortuitous circumstances.
There seemed little danger when Koivisto attacked from the right but her shot from 20 yards clipped off Sophie Perry to deceive the back-peddling Byrne.
Megan Campbell’s thrown-ins and free-kicks formed part of Ireland’s artillery and from one of her deliveries on the half hour, O’Sullivan reacted first to beat Tinja-Riikka Korpela but not Anna Westerlund, who was behind her goalkeeper.
The loss of Campbell to injury before the break deprived Ireland of that threat and it took until the hour mark for another chance of note to be generated by the Irish. O’Sullivan was again at the hub of the action, laying the ball invitingly into the path of Ruesha Littlejohn and her shot drew a splendid tip-over save from Korpela.
That would be the sum of Ireland’s second-half chances as Finland notched their second to kill off any potential comeback. When Tuija Hyyrynen whipped in a corner from the left, Ireland failed to attack the cross, leaving Linda Sallstrom alone to beat Byrne with a bullet-header.
E Byrne (Arsenal); M De Burca (Galway), M Campbell (Florida State University), L Quinn (Eskilstuna), S Perry (Brighton & Hove Albion); N Fahey (Chelsea), D Caldwell (Avaldsness); K McCabe (Shelbourne), D O’Sullivan (Glasgow City), JA Russell (UCD Waves); A O’Gorman (UCD Waves).
R Littlejohn (Celtic) for Campbell (43 mins), S Killeen (Shelbourne) for Russell (71 mins), S Roche (Sunderland) for O’Gorman (72 mins)
TR Korpela; E Koivisto, T Hyyrynen, A Westerlund, K Mattsson; A Kukkonen, E Alanen; L Sallstrom, N Heroum, N Kuikka; A Engman.
J Kemppi for Engman (87 mins).
Jana Adamkova (CZE)
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