Northern Ireland claimed their first win of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying campaign, with a 3-1 victory over Slovakia in Zilina, reports irishfa.com.
Goals from Julie Nelson, Rachel Furness and Caragh Milligan sealed the deserved victory for the Senior Women as they battled back after going behind from a Jana Vojtekova strike.
Alfie Wylie handed debuts to Megan Bell and Madison Guy along with a return for Sarah McFadden whose last game was in November 2016.
Northern Ireland started the brighter as Simone Magill nearly got on the end of a through ball from Furness. This was quickly followed up by Laura Rafferty whose header just went over the bar.
However it was Slovakia who took the lead as Vojtekova was left unmarked in the box to tap home from close range after 20 minutes.
Northern Ireland responded with a great chance of their own to equalise just minutes later. Furness was once again the architect as her run opened up space for a shot on goal but the striker was brought down right on the edge of the bpx. She stepped up to take the free kick and it bounced back off the post.
Then some fortunate did arrive for Wylie’s side. Marisa Callaghan was through but she was beaten to the through ball which was passed back to the Slovakian keeper leaving the referee no choice but to award a free kick for a pass back. Nelson confidently stepped up and slammed home the equaliser into the bottom corner.
It was a great start to the second half as it was Furness who gave Northern Ireland the lead after 52 minutes. A cross came in and the striker gambled to beat Slovakia keeper Lucia El-Dahaibiova to the ball and make it 2-1.
Just nine minutes later it was three and again Furness was in the action as her cross was met by Milligan who scored her second goal of the World Cup qualifying campaign.
That’s how it finished to put them into fourth place in the group on three points with Slovakia now in last place of group three.
Northern Ireland: Higgins, Newborough, Rafferty, Nelson, Guy (45), Callaghan (c), Bell (81), McFadden, Milligan, Furness, Magill. Subs: Perry, Sherwood (81), Foy (45), Lindsay, Doherty, McKenna, Hyndmann.