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Dublin: 3°C Sunday 17 January 2021

World champions too strong for battling Ireland as USA kick off victory tour in style

USA were 3-0 winners at the Rose Bowl.

A general view of the action at the Rose Bowl.
A general view of the action at the Rose Bowl.

IT WAS A big ask for Ireland and although they gave a battling second-half display, World Cup champions USA flexed their muscle and kicked off their victory tour with a bang — and a 3-0 win — at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena overnight.

The damage was done by half time in front of 37,040 fans as Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan and Carli Lloyd had the hosts home and hosed with 41 minutes on the clock.

Jill Ellis’ world champions were clinical in the first period, piling the pressure on the Girls in Green, but Ireland, to their credit, stood firm in the second.

The game’s first goal came 16 minutes in when Heath — who came into the side after Mallory Pugh pulled a muscle in the warm up — hit home to the joy of home fans.

Stronger Irish defending and some saves from Marie Hourihan kept the hungry USA at bay for a period, but Horan doubled their lead in the 31st minute.

Carli Lloyd with Louis Quinn Louise Quinn and Carli Lloyd battle for the ball. Source: USA Today/Gary A. Vasquez/INPHO

10 minutes later, 37-year-old legend Carli Lloyd — with 281 caps to her name and now her 114th goal — fired her side’s third of the international friendly.

Ireland, under the watchful eye of interim manager Tom O’Connor as a replacement for Colin Bell is sought, came out fighting after the break and ensured it stayed 3-0 in California.

Rose Lavelle and Ali Krieger were among the France 2019 heroes introduced, but Ireland battled gamely and kept them out as preparations for their upcoming Euro 2021 qualifiers continue.

“It’s 3-0 and no one likes to lose, but I think you have to put it in context,” O’Connor said afterwards.

“We’re playing against the world champions in their home match, on their victory tour. Overall, I’m very, very pleased with the performance and the way the girls played tonight.

“It was a tough first half, we didn’t see a lot of the ball. But the second half was a different story. After the first 45 minutes and with them three up already, we knew we had to get the shape right and overall I’m delighted with the second-half performance.”

The two teams shake hands after the game The sides shake hands afterwards. Source: USA Today/Gary A. Vasquez/INPHO

With Montenegro up first on 3 September in those qualifiers, O’Connor was pleased to blood some youth and feels the future is bright for the side.

“To bring a 17-year-old, Eabha O’Mahony, on and for her to do so well was great,” he added. “We had a few players making their debut or getting their first starts and they did very well, so that bodes well for the team for the future.

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“Niamh Farrelly and Jess Gargan were excellent, they didn’t look out of sync at all. With all that in mind, we’ll look forward to the start of another campaign.”

Republic of Ireland: Marie Hourihan, Claire O’Riordan, Louise Quinn (Claire Walsh), Diane Caldwell, Jess Gargan, Harriet Scott, Niamh Fahey, Niamh Farrelly, Amber Barrett (Rianna Jarrett), Heather Payne (Eabha O’Mahony), Katie McCabe.

USA: Alyssa Naeher (Ashlyn Harris), Tobin Heath (Jessica McDonald), Carli Lloyd (Ali Krieger), Christen Press (Rose Lavelle), Lindsey Horan, Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis (Allie Long), Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlekemper, Kelley O’Hara (Emily Sonnett).

Referee: Ekaterina Koroleva (USA).

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Emma Duffy

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