Tuesday 19 June 2018

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Norway make Girls in Green pay penalty to dash dream

Norway 1 Ireland 0

Sophie Perry-Campbell tries to hold back the tears after Ireland’s defeat by Norway in Stavanger yesterday. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Sophie Perry-Campbell tries to hold back the tears after Ireland’s defeat by Norway in Stavanger yesterday. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Colin Bell once again bemoaned a defensive lapse and poor finishing after Ireland's hopes of qualifying for the Women's World Cup finals were ended in Stavanger.

Needing victory against the group's top seeds, Ireland were undone by Caroline Graham-Hansen's goal from the spot midway through the first half.

Fussy referee Esther Staubli, who booked teenage debutant Issy Atkinson for entering the pitch too early as a substitute, penalised Claire O'Riordan for her late challenge on Graham-Hansen after 24 minutes.

However, the Swiss didn't point to the spot when Maren Mjelde caught Ireland's Megan Connolly at the other end.

The Girls in Green almost nicked a late leveller when Katie McCabe swivelled 10 yards out but saw her low shot kept out by Ingrid Hjelmseth.

The defeat was Ireland's third on the spin, crushing any hopes of them building on the positive start to the campaign that had raised hopes of a first-ever tournament being reached.

Louise Quinn of Republic of Ireland in action against Elise Thorsnes of Norway. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Louise Quinn of Republic of Ireland in action against Elise Thorsnes of Norway. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Norway will now battle it out with European champions Holland to decide which of them progresses to the finals in France next year automatically.

Ireland, meanwhile, are guaranteed third spot even before they host Northern Ireland in the concluding qualifier on August 31.

"Claire (O'Riordan) committed to the tackle early but Graham-Hansen was already up in the air before that. Not every referee would give that decision," added Bell.

"In the case of our claim, I felt we were never going to get a penalty here."

Megan Connolly of Republic of Ireland in action against Vilde Bøe Risa of Norway. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Megan Connolly of Republic of Ireland in action against Vilde Bøe Risa of Norway. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The solitary goal arrived just as Ireland appeared to have weathered early Norwegian pressure.

Wolfsburg's Graham-Hansen capitalised was allowed raiding into the right side of the penalty area, inviting O'Riordan into a mistimed challenge on the occasion of her first competitive start.

Marie Hourihan guessed the right way, but Graham-Hansen's 22nd international goal was nestled into the bottom corner.

Irish Independent

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