The Irish women’s national team will be disappointed to have come out on the wrong side of their two friendly games Vs Iceland this week in their final outing before their World Cup qualification journey begins in autumn.
Marking their seventh successive loss in a row, Vera Pauw’s women were up against it with the opposition ranked 17 places higher than her side in FIFA’s world rankings, although prior to the match had remarked that Ireland were to “jump a level” against this “fantastic opponent” if they were to yield favourable results.
As it happened
June 11th – Iceland 3-2 Republic of Ireland
With the score line perhaps not reflecting Iceland’s dominance accurately, the Girls in Green never gave up in this 5-goal fixture.
Their first half performance ultimately letting them down, Ireland conceded the opener in the 11th minute when Agla María Albertsdóttir chipped the ball over Grace Maloney as she came off her line.
Quickly capitalising on the unfolding momentum, Iceland then struck again for their second in as many minutes, captain Alexandra Jóhannsdóttir slotting the ball away from close range.
Despite then settling into the game and enjoying patches of obstinateness, Ireland’s bad start turned even worse when Karólína Lea Vilhjálmsdóttir’s thunder shot came back off the post and fell to Dagný Brynjarsdóttir who tapped the ball into an empty net on 39 minutes.
Éabha O’Mahony and Amber Barrett’s introduction after the halftime whistle saw Ireland propel forward more, as did Katie McCabe’s position change further up-field and the added bonus of the wind at their backs.
Heather Payne secured the first senior international goal of her career as McCabe’s cross was aided by a touch from Barrett that allowed her to convert from 5 yards.
Barrett herself then joined the ranks of the scoresheet when she teamed up with Niamh Fahy to split open Iceland’s defense in the dying embers of the game but it was too little too late in Reykjavik for Ireland to mount a comeback.
After the match Pauw spoke about how “You can never start the way that [Ireland] did” and that it “cannot happen anymore.”
“During the first half we rearranged the midfield to stop more goals from going in, which helped, but at half-time we decided to have more pressure on the wings so we brought on Éabha (O’Mahony) so that Katie (McCabe) could go forward and that helped us.”
“We need to be more clinical (in front of goal) but what I liked is that we put a lot of pressure forward after the first half that we came through. We are capable of jumping up to that level and we will face these difficult circumstances again against Sweden and Finland so it’s good that we are experiencing it now and learning how to deal with it.”
June 15th– Iceland 2-0 Republic of Ireland
A better showing but nonetheless the same end product underpinned Ireland’s 2-0 loss yesterday evening, in which Pauw made four changes to the side who started the previous battle.
Learning from their mistake in the first match Ireland started strong with a high press and imposing attacking advances.
Barrett and Megan Connolly continuously fired shots at the home side’s keeper, with Louise Quinn, Diane Caldwell and co keeping things solid at the back.
That was of course until the second half where Berglind Björg Þorvaldsdóttir sent Iceland 1-0 up and Ireland into capitulation.
Conceding another goal late on at the feet of Karólína Lea Vilhjálmsdótti, Ireland were handed their second loss in four days.
🗣 "There were some real opportunities but, at this level, we need to be taking them. We can take positives but ultimately this was preparation for the World Cup campaign"— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) June 16, 2021
WNT 🇮🇪 captain @Katie_McCabe11 assesses the performances against Iceland#COYGIG ☘️ | #WeAreOne 1️⃣ pic.twitter.com/CuL6cItE9d
Forced to reflect once again on both what went right and went wrong Pauw has plenty of inspiration to draw on before their World Cup efforts get underway Vs Georgia in September, with Sweden and Finland to come the month after.