#FIFAWWC Qualifiers: Utland double undoes Ireland

Photo: fai.ie

Friday’s loss saw Republic of Ireland drop to third-place in Group 3, two points behind Norway, with the Netherlands a further point ahead in top spot, reports fai.ie.

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

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.

Speaking after the game, 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.

“If we lose again to Norway, our qualification hopes are over. A draw would be a positive result.”

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.

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)