FIFA World Cup 2019 Qualifier Report: Republic of Ireland 0 - 2 NorwayFri, Jun 08 2018
Dave Donnelly reports from Tallaght Stadium
Ireland will require the biggest performance of the Colin Bell era in Stavanger on Tuesday if they're to stand any chance of reaching a first-ever World Cup finals next summer.
The Girls in Green were outclassed by a savvy Norway side at Tallaght Stadium on Friday evening as a goal in each half from Lisa-Marie Utland saw the visitors into second place.
It was a scoreline that flattered Ireland somewhat, Norway having twice hit the woodwork, but Bell was left frustrated as his side gave up two sloppy set-piece goals.
Mounting injury problems – player of the year Harriet Scott and Megan Connolly joined Steph Roche and Megan Campbell in sitting the game out – saw several positional reshuffles.
Áine O'Gorman – on her 99th appearance for her country – was pressed into action at left back and was clearly targetted by the Norwegian attack early doors.
O'Gorman's hesitation under a bouncing ball in the box presented the visitors with their first chance of the game, as her clearance found Caroline Graham-Hansen, who shot into the side netting.
A poor pass from Denise O'Sullivan presented Ingrid Syrsted Engen with an opportunity moments later, but her shot was comfortably saved by goalkeeper Marie Hourihan
More good work down the right from Graham-Hansen allowed her to fire a ball across the six-yard box, which Louise Quinn did well to cut out – and Syrsted Engen blazed the rebound over.
The sense a goal was coming was realised just before the midway point in the half as Ulsted pulled away from a Guro Reiten corner and headed past Hourihan from close range.
It was no less than Norway deserved, and it should have been 2-0 on the half-hour as the outstanding Reiten thundered a shot on goal that Hourihan expertly tipped onto the bar.
Quinn was forced off with a broken nose ten minutes before the break, and she will be a major doubt for Tuesday as fate continues to turn against the luckless Irish.
Still, the Norwegians poured forward in search of the goal that would kill the game before half time, and Isabell Herlovsen should have provided it from Reiten's cross, but she headed wastefully wide.
Ireland emerged for the second half with fire in their bellies and were the better side for the next ten minutes, and should have levelled just three minutes in.
Katie McCabe cut out a poor corner and sent Leanne Kiernan into the space. The Shels striker beat two players with pace and bore down on Ingrid Hjelmseth, but her shot let her down.
It was reminiscent of the move that led to Kiernan's opener in the home win over Slovakia in April, but on this occasion she ran out of gas having done brilliantly to create the chance for herself.
Norway did put the game to bed just past the hour, and somewhat against the run of play, when Graham-Hansen free kick wasn't dealt with, O'Gorman couldn't control and Ulsted smashed home.
Norway should have added to their tally late on as Ireland went for broke, with Amber Barrett joining Kiernan up front in place of Niamh Fahey.
Hourihan saved from Frida Maanum and twice from the wasteful Horlovsen, before Diane Caldwell did wonderful to force Reiten'sshot off the post.
One last push from Ireland saw the home side's top performer, Tyler Toland, pick out Sophie Campbell-Perry and she found Karen Duggan on the penalty spot, but the midfielder couldn't keep her shot down.
All eyes turn to the Viking Stadium in Stavanger on Tuesday, where Ireland will have to exceed their battling draw with the Netherlands in Eindhoven and hope other results go their way.
Republic of Ireland: Marie Hourihan; Sophie Campbell-Perry, Louise Quinn (Claire O'Riordan 36), Diane Caldwell, Aine O'Gorman; Karen Duggan, Niamh Fahey (Amber Barrett 70), Tyler Toland, Denise O'Sullivan, Katie McCabe; Leanne Kiernan.
Subs not used: Amanda Budden (gk), Aislinn Meaney, Megan Connolly, Isibeal Atkinson, Rianna Jarrett.
Norway: Ingrid Hjelmseth; Ingrid Moe Wold, Maren Mjelde, Maria Thorisdottir,Synne Skinnes Hansen; Caroline Graham Hansen (Vilda Boe Rise 70), Frida Maanum, Ingrid Syrstad Engen, Guro Reiten; Lisa-Marie Utland (Elise Thorsnes 70), Isabell Herlovsen (Synne Jensen 89).
Subs not used: Cecilie Fiskerstrand (gk), Ina Gausdal, Kristine Leine, Emilie Haavi.
Booked: Caroline Graham-Hansen (30).
Referee: Kateryna Monzul.
Attendance: 3,172 (official),
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Guro Reiten (Norway).