Last Tuesday night, the Ireland Women’s team extended their unbeaten run to two games with a hard fought 3-2 victory over Ukraine. Unfortunately, Tallaght Stadium was not full for the game despite many reports of the game being a sell-out. Despite the small crowd, the Irish team put in a fantastic performance and came away with a fully deserved win, albeit after almost letting the victory slip.
The Irish team went into the game full of confidence having defeated Montenegro 2-0 in September. In Vera Pauw’s first game in charge, it only took the Women in green 25 minutes to get on the scoresheet. Rianna Jarrett latched onto a Denise O’Sullivan ball and fired a ball across from the by-line where Katie McCabe placed it in the bottom corner from the edge of the six-yard box. Things got
even better for Ireland three minutes later when a Katie McCabe corner was met by Rianna Jarrett five yards from goal to double Éire’s lead. By the half hour mark, Ireland were cruising and maintaining the pressure on the Ukrainian defence. The tides began to turn though in the 34 th when a dangerous cross from the right was dropped by Irish goalkeeper, Marie Hourihan and the ball fell
to Lyubov Shmatko who finished from close range. Despite the reduced deficit, Ireland were still confident of pushing on, but 9 minutes later some poor defending and a misplaced clearance from Megan Connolly let Olha Ovdiychuk in to score the equaliser for Ukraine. Half time came just at the right time for Ireland, allowing them to regroup and get their game plan in order once again.
The Irish started the second half positively and sustained the high tempo play that they enjoyed for so much of the first half, and It didn’t take them long to regain the lead. In the 52 nd minute, Jarrett sent a low cross across the box which was palmed away as far as Denise O’Sullivan who took a shot at goal. A goal line scramble ensued, Shmatko’s attempt to clear the ball off the line ricocheted off
Pantsulaya and into her own net. Heartbreak for the Atletico Madrid midfielder and her teammates but utter joy for the girls in green. Ukraine stayed in the game until the end and worried Ireland late on when Apanaschenko’s curling effort was tipped past the post by Hourihan.
Vera Pauw was delighted with her side’s performance, defeating the second seeds in the group is a massive achievement. ‘Both goals were just given away by us, at half time we set the tasks again’ said Pauw after the victory. The pressure was on the Irish having left a 2-goal lead slip, but as Vera Pauw said herself ‘the discipline at the end was what brought the win. The fighting spirit of these players’. Next up for the Ireland is a trip to Greece on the 12 th of November which promises to be a great occasion.