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Ireland's hopes of Euro 2017 qualification suffer a setback with home defeat to Spain

Sue Ronan’s team went down 3-0 at Tallaght Stadium this afternoon.

Ireland's Denise O'Sullivan and Spanish goalscorer Vicky Losada.
Ireland's Denise O'Sullivan and Spanish goalscorer Vicky Losada.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Ireland 0 Spain  3

IRELAND WERE HANDED their second home defeat of the Euro 2017 qualifying campaign this afternoon — going down 3-0 to Spain in front of 2,763 fans at Tallaght Stadium.

The damage was done in the first half with goals from Vicky Losada and Jennifer Hermoso, from the penalty spot, before a Sophie Perry own-goal late on made sure of a well-deserved three points for the visitors.

Having lost their opening qualifier against Finland, Sue Ronan’s side got themselves back on track last month with a 2-1 victory away to Portugal ahead of a meeting with Group 2′s top seeds in their final fixture of 2015.

Florida State pair Megan Campbell and Megan Connolly were both unavailable due to college commitments while Shelbourne winger Katie McCabe was missing after picking up a Grade 2 tear in her quad during Ireland’s previous game.

That meant returns to the starting line-up for Diane Caldwell and Siobhan Killeen with the versatile pair Niamh Fahey and Aine O’Gorman dropping back into centre-half and right full-back respectively from midfield.

Ireland team Ireland's starting XI. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The game was two minutes old when Ireland skipper Emma Byrne, making her 121st appearance, was called into action. The Arsenal goalkeeper parried Virginia Torrecilla’s speculative effort before smothering  the ball.

Spain soon began to control the flow of the game — playing some neat intricate passages of play in Ireland’s half without looking particularly dangerous early on.

There was a nervy moment in the 21st minute when a Spanish corner resulted in a goalmouth scramble. An attempted clearance came off Hermoso and struck the post before Ireland eventually cut out the danger.

The visitors did break the deadlock on the half-hour mark, however. After some excellent build-up play and a couple of one-twos involving Marta Correda, Arsenal midfielder Losada latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the Ireland box to stroke home past her club mate Byrne.

A combination of last-ditch defending and fine work from Byrne then kept the Spaniards at bay but Ireland conceded a second from the penalty spot on 44 minutes.

Tricky winger Amanda Sampedro skipped past Sophie Perry before taking a tumble inside the area and Hermoso dispatched from 12 yards to hand them a two-goal cushion going into the interval.

Vicky Losada celebrates scoring The Spanish players celebrate their first goal. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Ronan made one change at half-time with Killeen making way for Galway WFC’s Meabh De Burca.

And while Ireland rarely threatened Dolores Gallardo’s goal, they had their best chance on 63 minutes.

A free-kick was launched into the Spanish danger area, a shot from O’Sullivan fell at the feet of Perry and her attempt was blocked behind for a corner.

There was a big moment for 20-year-old striker Clare Shine, who came on with 25 minutes remaining to make her senior international debut, while Sunderland’s Stephanie Roche was also introduced in the closing stages.

Ireland worked hard as a defensive unit to keep the scoreline down but Spain pushed for a third and substitute Olga Garcia’s saw her shot go in off Perry in injury-time.

IRELAND: Emma Byrne (c), Sophie Perry, Louise Quinn, Niamh Fahey, Aine O’Gorman, Karen Duggan (Stephanie Roche 80′), Diane Caldwell, Denise O’Sullivan, Julie Ann Russell, Siobhan Killeen (Meabh De Burca 45′), Ruesha Littlejohn (Clare Shine 66′).

SPAIN: Dolores Gallardo, Marta Torrejon, Irene Paredes, Ruth Garcia (c), Melanie Serrano, Viriginia Torrecilla, Vicky Losada (Alexandra 86′), Alexia Putellas, Amanda Sampedro (Celia Jimenez 82′), Marta Corredera (Olga Garcia 58′), Jennifer Hermoso.

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Ben Blake

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