Irish lose Euro plot
The breakneck descent of the Irish women from contenders to whipping girls at the European Championships was completed yesterday as they were beaten for the second time in two days.
Saturday's 3-0 defeat in Monchengladbach to hosts Germany was no real surprise, but last night the opposition was unheralded Belgium. Four places below Gene Muller's team in the world rankings and competing at the elite level in Europe for the first time, the Belgians entered expecting a close contest.
Instead, they encountered an Irish side that turned in a hesitant, disjointed, error-strewn performance, which failed again to produce a score, for the second time in 28 miserable hours. Belgium served notice of intent as early as six minutes when a shot from the hard-running Anouk Raes was deflected home by captain Charlotte de Vos.
The skipper needed no assistance as she charged up the right to add a second before the break and Lieselotte van Lindt completed the tally on 44 minutes.
"I am deeply, deeply disappointed for the team," said Muller afterwards. "We were haemorrhaging at pressure moments and Belgium capitalised."
His charges, so intensely and expensively prepared for this tournament, are now now pitched into a relegation dogfight, regardless of how they fare against England tomorrow.