Ireland’s Caitlin Hayes with Magdalena Eriksson and Linda Sembrant of Sweden. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Swede Nothing

More Euro qualifier disappointment for Ireland as Sweden down Gleeson's side at Aviva

22,868 fans watched the 3-0 defeat.

Republic of Ireland 0

Sweden 3

ANOTHER FRUSTRATING NIGHT for Ireland, a third defeat in this Euro 2025 qualifying ‘Group of Death’.

Johanna Rytting Kaneryd (two) and Fridolina Rolfö scored the goals in front of 22,868 fans on a fine summer evening at the Aviva Stadium. The FAI said yesterday that almost 30,000 tickets had been sold.

The scoreline may be viewed as harsh on Ireland. They again conceded early, but Eileen Gleeson’s side produced an encouraging first half, before coming undone as they went for it. All three goals uncharacteristically came down Ireland’s left side.

These are both direct, counter-attacking teams. Sweden were clinical, Ireland were not. They can’t say they didn’t have their chances.

So the wait for the first points in this group — and their first goal in 2024 — continues, with the return trip to Stockholm on Tuesday.

This was seen as a big opportunity: Ireland had secured a 1-1 World Cup qualifier draw away to Sweden as recently as 2022, but they finished third in Australia and are the Olympic silver medallists. 18 places separate them in the Fifa World rankings, with Peter Gerhardsson’s side sixth.

The Girls In Green had previously been beaten by France (1-0) and England (0-2), while Sweden were defeated by France (0-1) and drew with England (1-1). Elsewhere tonight, Les Bleus beat England 2-1 to take control of the two automatic qualification spots. The bottom two teams head for the play-offs.

Gleeson was forced to reshuffle her XI — the midfield, in particular — with Denise O’Sullivan, Ruesha Littlejohn, Heather Payne and Niamh Fahey all out injured.

She stuck with Louise Quinn, Caitlin Hayes and Anna Patten as the three centre-halves; Katie McCabe started at left-wing back after her post-season trip to Australia; while Jess Ziu got the nod on the right. Jessie Stapleton, Megan Connolly and Lily Agg were the midfield trio, while Amber Barrett was rewarded for her club form alongside Kyra Carusa in attack. The deployment of two strikers was one notable change. 

There were no surprises in the Sweden 4-3-3, with star striker Stina Blackstenius long ruled out with a hip problem.

amber-barrett-reacts-to-a-missed-chance Amber Barrett reacts to a missed chance. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Ireland made a positive start, but were pegged back once again by an early concession. While France and England scored in the sixth and 12th minutes respectively, the deadlock wasn’t broken until the 26th minute this time around.

This was a fiery, physical encounter from the off; Agg setting the tone with an early two-footed tackle she somehow wasn’t booked for.

Gleeson bemoaned how “passive” Ireland had been early on previously, but they were more aggressive in this instance. Most of their best work came down the right, with Ziu causing problems on her first Aviva appearance and Barrett flashing across the face of goal. It was far from perfect, as they struggled to keep possession at times, but there were improvements.

Agg should have scored in the 22nd minute. Hayes arrowed a ball over the top, which Barrett crossed the Birmingham City midfielder but her effort rolled past the far post. She immediately appealed for handball against Linda Sembrant on Barrett’s delivery, but there were no sparing her blushes.

It was on the other flank Sweden found early joy. McCabe was keen to attack, often leaving Ireland’s left side exposed. Rytting Kaneryd had been threatening in her absence, and the Swedes eventually capitalised. The Chelsea attacker was slipped through by captain Kosovare Asllani and she finished superbly after losing Patten.

Buoyed by the goal, Sweden looked to be clawing their way on top — and had a penalty shout waved away after a clumsy Ziu challenge — but Ireland were left to rue another golden opportunity just after the half hour-mark.

They shifted the ball from left to right; McCabe to Agg to Ziu, but Barrett made poor work of the pin-point cross and headed over. Shortly afterwards, the Donegal striker gambled on another Hayes delivery, but she couldn’t pounce on another Sembrant error.

Sweden were far from menacing, but they fired a warning shot before half time. Madalen Janogy broke and found Asllani, though Rolfö couldn’t steer her header on target, under pressure.

Ireland restarted on the hunt – just momentarily. Agg was left dazed after an innocuous collision in the box as she tried to get on the end of a Ziu cross, but the Swedes moved through the gears from there.

In the 52nd minute, Filippa Angeldal found herself with plenty of time and space in the box to cross, and Courtney Brosnan fumbled what should have been a bread-and-butter claim, only for Ziu to clear.

The Everton goalkeeper made up for it just after, producing a big save to deny Rolfö after a superb ball split the Irish defence.

But the Barcelona Champions League winner made no mistake with her next chance in the 62nd minute: she took one touch inside the area and curled home beautifully, after Louise Quinn — who had been solid up to that point — knocked on Asllani’s counter-attacking cross.

Ireland offered little up top at the other end, bar one instance when a Barrett cross flew over Kyra Carusa’s head. Gleeson waited until the 73rd minute to really roll the dice with a triple substitution and a change of formation to a back four.

Megan Campbell’s long throw-in did bring excitement on her 50th cap, and Leanne Kiernan offered a spark, but Ireland didn’t really trouble Zecira Musovic minus a tame Hayes header off a McCabe free-kick.

From the next one, Sweden countered and scored. The blazed a trail down their right wing, Rytting Kaneryd eventually wrapping up the win with her second of the night. She opted to square to Matilda Vinberg first, who Brosnan denied with another superb save, but she was left angered when her team-mates couldn’t stop Rytting Kaneryd.

Campbell quite literally threw the kitchen sink of it, but Ireland’s only real chance in the closing minutes fell to another substitute, Emily Murphy.

Musovic comfortably claimed, but it was up to Brosnan to produce the last big stop of the night to deny Angeldal.

Swede nothing.

IRELAND: Courtney Brosnan; Jess Ziu, Anna Patten (Megan Campbell 73), Louise Quinn, Caitlin Hayes, Katie McCabe; Jessie Stapleton (Tyler Toland 59), Megan Connolly, Lily Agg (Leanne Kiernan 73); Amber Barrett (Emily Murphy 84), Kyra Carusa (Aoife Mannion 73).

SWEDEN: Zecira Musovic; Nathalie Björn (Hanna Lundkvist HT), Linda Sembrant, Magdalena Eriksson, Jonna Andersson; Filippa Angeldahl, Kosovare Asllani (Matilda Vinvberg 66) Julia Zigotti Olme; Johann Rytting Kaneryd (Sofia Jakobssen 86), Madelen Janogy (Pauline Hammarlund 66), Fridolina Rolfö (Rosa Kafaji 89).

Referee: Katalin Kulcsár (Hungary).

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