WORLD CUP PLAYOFFS SECURED!!

WORLD CUP PLAYOFFS SECURED!! WORLD CUP PLAYOFFS SECURED!!
Lucy Carrier-Pilkington

Vera Pauw's team made sure of finishing second in the Group, behind Sweden, to secure a spot in the second round of the Qualifying Play-Offs for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup.

After beating Finland in their previous game, Ireland knew that they were in the Play-Offs, this was just a matter of which round they would go into. And they got exactly what they wanted.

A fast start to the game suggested that Ireland was going to take an early lead but it took until 36 minutes before O'Sullivan turned sharply in the opponents' penalty area to fire in.

This wasn't a pretty game to watch but that didn't matter as Ireland stood firm to record another clean sheet and do enough to take the three points. It wasn't that they played poorly, it was just a tough contest.

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Harriet Scott and Claire O'Riordan came into the defense with Niamh Fahey and Megan Connolly missing, while Lily Agg earned her first competitive start due to Ruesha Littlejohn being unavailable.

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Jess Ziu was voted as the Sky Ireland Player of the Match as she excelled when attacking and then did an excellent job when switched to wing-back late on.

Captain Katie McCabe had a couple of chances on goal that fizzed wide, while Diane Caldwell also missed the target. The attacking threat was there but the goals did not come.

It mattered little though as Ireland held on to win the game and advance to the Play-Offs to stay in the hunt for a place at the World Cup.

Slovakia: Maria Korenciova; Kristína Košíková, Jana Vojteková, Diana Lemešová, Patricia Fischerova, Andrea Horvathova; L’udmila Mat’aková (Stela Semanová 66), Dominika Škorvánková, Mária Mikolajová, Martina Šurnovská (Kristina Panakova 83); Patrícia Hmírová (Tamara Morávková 72).

Republic of Irekand: Courtney Brosnan; Harriet Scott (Ellen Molloy 68), Claire O’Riordan, Louise Quinn, Diane Caldwell, Megan Connolly; Jess Ziu, Denise O’Sullivan, Lily Agg, Katie McCabe; Heather Payne (Leanne Kiernan 83).

Referee: María Martínez (Spain).

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