Magdalena Eriksson celebrates her winner. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Match Report

Heartbreak for Ireland as late winner sinks Gleeson's side in Sweden

Magdalena Eriksson condemns Girls In Green to another defeat in Group of Death.

Sweden 1 

Republic of Ireland 0

THE DAM BROKE in the 84th minute, Irish hearts shattered in Stockholm.

Eileen Gleeson’s side had held firm all night. They were within touching distance of a first point — and first clean sheet of this Euro 2025 qualifying campaign.

But an avoidable concession from a corner stopped them in their tracks late on.

Caitlin Hayes, who had been heroic in defence, cleared for the set-piece. Jonna Andersson swung in from the right, and it all happened so fast. The next thing, the ball was in the back of the net.

Courtney Brosnan, who had also excelled, was rooted to her line with the back post unattended, while Magdalena Eriksson was joyously celebrating after claiming a touch.

This was a crucial win for Sweden as they chase automatic qualification from the Group of Death, a fourth defeat in-a-row for Ireland who cling to the safety net of a play-off.

The wait for a goal in 2024 also continues, as relegation back to League B looms large.

To add insult to injury, Katie McCabe will miss Ireland’s next game against England after her yellow card at Friends Arena, while Louise Quinn is an injury concern after her first-half withdrawal. 

Gleeson made three changes to her XI from Friday’s 3-0 defeat at the Aviva Stadium — and notably, switched to a back four. Leanne Kiernan, Aoife Mannion and Ruesha Littlejohn came in for Amber Barrett, Anna Patten and Jessie Stapleton in a 4-2-3-1.

Hanna Lundkvist replaced the injured Nathalie Björn in the Swedish XI, while all eyes were on their hero in Dublin, Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, as the 19-place chasm in the Fifa world rankings was clear to see once more.

While there were some nervy moments, Ireland navigated the first half without conceding for the first time this campaign. They were generally disciplined and compact through a huge shift, and were improved in possession early on.

Sweden, again, found joy down their right, with Kaneryd continually threatening. Their best chance arrived in the 20th minute, when Friday’s goalscorers combined to great effect but Fridolina Rolfö couldn’t keep her header down.

Jess Ziu and Kiernan — who battled through an early nosebleed — were lively, the in-form Liverpool striker flashing across goal in response. She won a corner shortly afterwards, which Katie McCabe swung in and Zecira Musovic punched away, only to Megan Connolly who saw her effort from the edge of the box deflected.

Brosnan — after some shaky moments early on — was alert to deny Rolfö, who turned Louise Quinn and got a shot away after a through ball from Filippa Angeldal.

Sweden looked to be moving through the gears, but the visitors dug deep and limited them to half chances.

Brosnan bought some time, while Hayes — repeatedly — Megan Connolly and Ziu stepped up with big clearances. Five minutes from the break, Quinn made way as an injury precaution, with Anna Patten introduced.

Swedish captain Kosovare Asllani split the Irish defence when she played Rolfö through, but the Barcelona Champions League winner’s touch let her down and another good chance went a-begging.

madelen-janogy-and-caitlin-hayes Sweden's Madelen Janogy and Ireland's Caitlin Hayes. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

The pick of Ireland’s at the other end saw Carusa smothered by Linda Sembrant, while they were pinged for offside on several occasions.

The second half was as you were: Sweden piling on the pressure and Ireland producing a massive defensive effort.

Brosnan stopped a Madelen Janogy header from an Asslani free-kick — though she was later deemed offside — while the Everton goalkeeper came to the rescue of Aoife Mannion after a ropey moment when Rolfö pounced.

Having offered little in attack, Ireland started to show a bit more promise when Ziu moved to the right. McCabe — shortly after her yellow for a needless challenge on Kaneryd — landed a long-range free on Musovic, who fumbled the ball after a collision with Eriksson but recovered accordingly.

Hayes and Brosnan continued to clean up everything Sweden threw at them, as the hosts’ frustration grew.

But the dam eventually burst six minutes from time.

Ireland threw the kitchen sink at it in response, but it wasn’t to be.

So close, yet so far.

Swede nothing once again.

SWEDEN: Zecira Musovic; Hanna Lundkvist, Linda Sembrant, Magdalena Eriksson, Jonna Andersson; Filippa Angeldahl (Hanna Bennison 67), Kosovare Asllani (Sofia Jakobsson 67), Julia Zigotti Olme; Johanna Rytting Kaneryd (Pauline Hammarlund 85), Madelen Janogy (Rosa Kafaji 67), Fridolina Rolfö.

IRELAND: Courtney Brosnan; Aoife Mannion, Louise Quinn (Anna Patten 41), Caitlin Hayes, Katie McCabe; Megan Connolly, Ruesha Littlejohn (Jessie Stapleton 57); Leanne Kiernan (Amber Barrett 77), Lily Agg (Abbie Larkin 57), Jess Ziu (Lucy Quinn 77); Kyra Carusa.

Referee: Alina Peşu (Romania).

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