Ireland claim victory against Finland with goals from Connolly and O'Sullivan

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Ireland Claim Victory Against Finland With Goals From Connolly And O'sullivan Ireland Claim Victory Against Finland With Goals From Connolly And O'sullivan
Goals from Megan Connolly and Denise O’Sullivan gave Vera Pauw’s side a 2-1 win away to Finland. Photo: INPHO
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Digital Desk Staff

Finland 1 - 2 Ireland

A first win in qualifying for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup felt sweet for the Republic of Ireland as they earned a 2-1 victory away to Finland in Helsinki.

The hosts had moved this fixture to their Olympic Stadium as part of 50 year celebrations of women's football but goals from Megan Connolly and Denise O'Sullivan spoiled their evening.

This was the second game in Group A for Vera Pauw's team - having narrowly lost 1-0 to Sweden - and they knew that a positive result was required to boost their chances of staying in the mix to reach the World Cup in 2023.

Connolly certainly shifted them in the right direction with a superb curling free-kick on nine minutes that opened the scoring. It was a similar finish that the Cork native converted in 2014 at the UEFA Women's Under-19 European Championships. Perhaps she should shoot more often.

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Ireland's Megan Connolly celebrates after scoring a goal with Denise O'Sullivan, Katie McCabe and Lucy Quinn. ©INPHO/Kalle Parkkinen

Ireland took control of the game in the early exchanges by pushing Finland back, pressing them high and using the ball well with O'Sullivan linking play so effortlessly.

Finland did have their chances with Linda Sällström and Anna Westerlund going close, while Natalia Kuikka was excellent in her overall play. Yet they rarely troubled goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan.

In fact, it took a moment of fortune for the home team to draw level as they took advantage of Katie McCabe being off the pitch with an injury before breaking through and Adelina Engman netting from close range.

It took Ireland just four minutes to respond as Heather Payne raced down the right flank and stood up a superb cross that veteran goalkeeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela dropped and O'Sullivan pounced to head in.

McCabe went close soon after with a rasping effort wide, while Finland piled on the pressure in the final minutes but brave defending and a collective performance saw Ireland collect the three points.

Next up for Pauw's team is a double-header in Tallaght Stadium against Slovakia (November 25th) and Georgia (November 30th).

Finland: Tinja-Riika Korpela; Tuija Hyyrynen, Anna Westerlund, Natalia Kuikka, Emma Koivisto; Adelina Engman, Emmi Alanen, Eveliina Summanen, Ria Öling (Essi Sainio 86); Sanni Franssi, Linda Sällström (Amanda Rantanan 89).

Republic of Ireland: Courtney Brosnan; Áine O’Gorman, Niamh Fahey, Louise Quinn, Savannah McCarthy, Katie McCabe; Megan Connolly, Denise O’Sullivan, Jamie Finn; Lucy Quinn (Rianna Jarrett 75), Heather Payne.

Referee: Alexandra Collin (France).

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