Girls in Green qualify for World Cup Play-offs following victory over Iceland


Republic of Ireland defeated Finland 1-0 in front of a record home crowd in their penultimate Women’s World Cup qualifying group match.

Victory for the Irish secured them second place in Group A behind leaders Sweden and brings with it the prize of a play-off spot for next year’s World Cup Finals in Australia and New Zealand.

A record crowd for a Women’s match in Ireland of just under 7,000 filled the Tallaght stadium in Dublin for the crucial match against Finland.

It was a nervous first half from the Irish and as early as the fourth minute Finland nearly got in around the back of the Irish defence but the attack was cleared for a corner by Megan Connolly. Irish keeper Courtney Brosnan then flapped at the cross from the corner kick and the ball had to be cleared off the line by Katie McCabe.

Photo: Stephen Gormley (Red Eye Photo Agency)

It was 25 minutes in before Ireland got their first corner from which they nearly scored. The corner went deep into the back post where Quinn headed it back across goal for Diane Caldwell to head off the crossbar. A couple of minutes later there was pinball in the Irish box with Brosnan having to make a great save to keep it at 0-0.

Irish eyes were smiling in the 54th minute when a free kick was floated into the Finland box from Connolly. Lily Agg found herself unmarked to head it home to make it 1-0 to Ireland and a step closer to that elusive place in the play offs.

Amazing the difference a goal makes as the Irish players looked so much sharper after their goal with McCabe and O’Sullivan taking control of the game.

In the 67th minute Payne should have wrapped it up for the Irish but her shot was weak and straight into the goalkeeper’s hands with the goal wide open. In the 93rd minute Ireland were nearly punished for not getting that second goal as a great chance fell to Sällström whose header sailed wide of the Irish goal from only ten yards out.

Tears of relief from the Irish players greeted the final whistle as they kept their dream alive of qualifying for a Women’s World Cup for the first time.

If Ireland win in Slovakia on Tuesday in their final group match they will increase their chances further by going into the play off draw as a seeded team.

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