Penalty puts paid to Ireland’s World Cup hopes

Photo: fai.ie

Republic of Ireland’s FIFA 2019 Women’s World Cup qualification hopes ended with a narrow 1-0 defeat against Norway, reports fai.ie.

Caroline Graham Hansen converted a 21st minute penalty to secure three points for the home side despite a valiant effort by an Ireland squad which has been hit hard by injuries.

Hansen slotted the ball past Marie Hourihan but it was Ireland who created the better chances in the rest of a pulsating contest at the Viking Stadion.

Leanne Kiernan fired a shot narrowly wide on the half-hour before Ireland had a strong claim for a penalty turned down as Megan Connolly went down in the area five minutes later.

Ireland should have been level at the break after a spate of chances in the final two minutes of the half. First, Sophie Perry’s right-sided cross was only half-cleared to Connolly who fired a fierce effort narrowly wide. A minute later, the tireless Kiernan found space in the area but her low effort was blocked. From the resulting corner, Claire O’Riordan put a free header wide to ensure Norway remained in front at the break.

Colin Bell’s side continued their form into the second-half and created a number of openings. Once again, Norway only half-cleared a Connolly corner and Denise O’Sullivan fired over with 30 minutes remaining.

Ireland toiled as Isibeal Atkinson came on to claim her first senior international appearance, replacing centurion Aine O’Gorman who claimed her 100th cap, and almost claimed a point in the final minute. Louise Quinn’s long-ball forward fell for Katie McCabe in the area but her low effort was straight at the keeper to condemn Ireland to defeat.

Republic of Ireland Head Coach Colin Bell said: “I’m very proud of the players. We’ve created a number of openings and we should have got something out of the game.

“It’s really tough on the players as they’ve given their all for the entire 90 minutes and if we can take one of the many chances we created, we’d be coming away with a brilliant result.

“I can’t fault the effort of the players and the progress this young team has made. We’ve got a number of players sidelined by injury and other players have had to stand up. We may be out of the World Cup but the signs of progress give me real hope for the future.”

Norway: Hjelmseth, Moe Wold, Mjelde, Thorisdottir, Haavi, Hansen, Maanum (Boe Rise 64), Engen, Reiten, Utland (Thorsnes 61), Herlovsen (Skinnes Hansen 90).

Republic of Ireland: Hourihan, Perry-Campbell, O’Riordan, Quinn, O’Gorman (Atkinson 89), Duggan, Toland, O’Sullivan, Connolly (Barrett 83), McCabe, Kiernan (Jarrett 83).

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