Sunday 8 December 2019

Germans needed luck of Irish to beat us – Byrne

Ireland 2 Germany 3 Women's World Cup Qualifier

Lena Lotzen, Germany, in action against Shannon Smyth, left, and Julie Ann Russell, Republic of Ireland
Lena Lotzen, Germany, in action against Shannon Smyth, left, and Julie Ann Russell, Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Emma Byrne shows her fustration to referee Carina Susanna Vitulano, second from right, after the game
Republic of Ireland players from left, Louise Quinn, Dora Gorman, Emma Byrne, Megan Campbell and Sophie Perry, react to referee Casrina Susanna Vitulano, after she awarded the goal of Lena Lotzen, German

John Fallon

IRELAND'S record-breaker Emma Byrne reckons her team can put the heartbreak of Saturday's late defeat against European champions Germany to good use.

The visitors struck in a freak stoppage-time winner at Tallaght Stadium just as Sue Ronan's side were on course for an extra point they'd never expected along their World Cup qualifying trek.

In a campaign where a runners-up spot was always the target, Arsenal goalkeeper Byrne is sure the task of nudging out Russia for second place can be achieved. "We've got Russia coming up soon at home on May 7, so the performance against Germany will put us in good stead," she said.

"After getting seven points from the first three qualifiers, we always knew Russia was the game that victory was most important in if we're to secure a World Cup play-off later this year. The only pity is that we didn't get the draw our display on Saturday deserved."

Byrne, presented with a gold cap before the game to mark her 106th appearance, left Tallaght Stadium ruing a missed opportunity of puncturing Germany's impeccable record in the campaign.

The Dubliner had produced a typically assured display to keep Ireland's early lead intact.

Her double-save from Simone Laudehr midway through the first half was the closest Germany came to cancelling out Louise Quinn's second-minute opener.

But Laudehr eventually beat the Dubliner with a penalty for the 65th-minute equaliser before luck played a part in the Germans' second and third goals. In between those strikes, substitute Stephanie Roche had drawn second-placed Ireland level two minutes from the end.

Byrne is adamant she was fouled in the lead-up to Lena Lotzen's goal to make it 2-1 and says Melanie Leupolz fluked the last-gasp winner that sailed over the 'keeper's head.

"People talk about the luck of the Irish – but Germany were the lucky ones today," said the stalwart.

"They'd won their previous five qualifiers easily but we gave them their toughest test of the campaign. It's bitterly disappointing not to have got a draw because we restricted Germany for most of the game and deserved something from it."

Byrne claims she got off on the wrong foot with referee Carina Vitulano. Two minutes after being booked for time-wasting, the Italian ignored a clear foul on Byrne by Lotzen on her way to scoring Germany's second goal.

"I don't think the referee liked me at all," she said. "There is no grey area when a goalkeeper has the ball knocked out of their hands. And, for the penalty, she didn't even blow the whistle before their player took it. Had I been set up properly, I might have done better with it."

Ireland's first-choice custodian didn't shun any blame for the winning goal.

She said: "It's one I'll lose sleep over because I was planning to collect a cross and the wind took it over my head."

IRELAND – Byrne; De Burca, Quinn, Campbell, Perry; Smyth (Grant 58), Gorman (Caldwell 86); Á O'Gorman, D O'Sullivan; JA Russell; F O'Sullivan.

GERMANY – Angerer; Schmidt, Krahn, Henning, Kemme (Lotzen 46); Kessler (Popp 70) Goeslling; Laudehr, Marozsán, Behringer (Leupolz 59); Mittag.

REF – Ms C Vitulano (ITA).

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