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Finland 1-2 Ireland

Hello and welcome to today’s liveblog.

It’s a very important game for both sides.

Ireland come into it on the back of a disappointing 1-0 defeat at home to Sweden where they nonetheless put in a creditable display against the second-highest ranked team in the world.

Finland, meanwhile, have won their opening two games against Slovakia and Georgia.

Most critics expect them to challenge Ireland for the runners-up spot in the group that would be enough to secure a play-off place.

Given that they sit 25th in the world — eight places above Ireland — the Finnish team will be most people’s slight favourites going into this game.

Vera Pauw’s side will feel a draw is the minimum result required though, and if they can build on last week’s encouraging display, that outcome certainly looks achievable.

Confirmation of today’s teams…

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

Finland: Tinja-Riika Korpela; Tuija Hyyrynen, Anna Westerlund, Natalia Kuikka, Emma Koivisto; Adelina Engman, Emmi Alanen, Eveliina Summanen, Ria Öling; Sanni Franssi, Linda Sällström.

Referee: Alexandra Collin (France).

Some pre-match reading for you…

“A lost here would be catastrophic to those [World Cup qualification] chances,” says Karen Duggan on RTÉ, though she suggests a draw would be an acceptable result for Ireland.

Certainly, defeat would be a major setback and leave Ireland trailing both Finland and Sweden by nine points.

We’re underway…

Finland have started this game on the front foot.

A corner is palmed away by Brosnan before Sällström’s shot from the edge of the area goes just over, landing on the roof of the net.

A Katie McCabe corner causes panic in the Finland area.

Westerlund is well-positioned though and stops it from finding the net before clearing her lines.

Brilliant start for Ireland!

After they win a free kick on the edge of the area, Megan Connolly steps up and her curled strike hits the underside of the bar before coming off the goalkeeper Korpela and going into the net.

Finland are coming more into it now.

Engman gets a shot at goal, but it goes well wide.

Finland are looking frustrated at the moment, as emphasised just there by a needless foul on Denise O’Sullivan.

Ireland have been really impressive at closing them down and denying their attacking players the space to play.

As I type though, a corner breaks for Kuikka, whose first-time shot is deflected over.

Another corner is headed wide by Summanen.

This has been a decent spell for the hosts and how they deal with the next few minutes could be crucial from an Irish perspective.

A free-kick is flighted in by Hyyrynen and Sällström heads a few inches wide.

Finland have created a couple of half-chances now and have been the better team since going behind.

Good ball by Westerlund to find Engman from distance, but McCarthy makes a timely interception.

From the ensuing set-piece, Kuikka heads just over.

Finland are getting closer.

Another worrying moment for Ireland, as Engman gets in behind McCarthy.

Quinn, however, is in the right place to cut out the cross.

Sigh of relief for Ireland as Sällström finds herself through on goal but is adjudged offside.

It looked marginal on the replay, but Bronsnan made a good save from the finish anyway.

Another nervy moment!

Brosnan comes very far off her line to try to claim the ball but then gets left stranded.

Fortunately for the visitors, the angle is tight and the Finnish side don’t make the most of the opportunity, allowing Irish players to get back in numbers and the chance is ultimately wasted.

The second half has begun…

There are no changes for either side at half-time.

Megan Connolly is currently receiving treatment after taking a knock but looks like she should be okay to continue.

Worrying moment for Ireland.

Katie McCabe is currently down receiving treatment.

With Katie McCabe off the pitch, Finland equalise.

An unmarked Engman connects sweetly with a cross to slot home and bring her side level.

Moments later, Finland almost take the lead, as Sällström can’t quite connect with a dangerous cross.

Ireland re-take the lead with a terrific response to the previous setback.

Payne loops in a cross, goalkeeper Korpela fails to keep hold of it and O’Sullivan is on hand to head home from close range.

There’s a bit of a goalmouth scramble, as Connolly does well to make a last-ditch block.

You get the sense that this next 15-minute period will be crucial for Ireland.

Chance for Ireland!

More positive play from McCabe, as her powerful low shot on the counter from a tight angle forces a decent save from Korpela.

Another good moment for Ireland.

Katie McCabe finds herself in plenty of space and fires a powerful shot just wide.

A third goal would surely be enough to secure Ireland three points at this stage.

Jamie Finn has just been booked for the second match in succession after a late challenge.

It looks set to be a nervy final 20 minutes for Irish fans.

Ireland make a change.

Rianna Jarrett comes on in place of Lucy Quinn.

The London City Lionesses player should add more physicality and stronger hold-up play to the Irish attack.

Ireland are looking pretty solid defensively at the moment.

Finland are having plenty of possession, but it’s all in front of the Irish backline.

denise-osullivans-header-goes-past-tinja-riikka-korpela Ireland's Denise O'Sullivan's header goes past Tinja-Riikka Korpela of Finland. Source: Kalle Parkkinen/INPHO

Brosnan does well to come and parry away a cross.

After excelling against Sweden, the Irish goalkeeper has put in another good performance today.

Finland make a substitution.

Öling is replaced by Sainio.

As I type, Finland go very close twice in a row.

Initially, Fahey has to clear off the line, before Koivisto’s header is well saved by Brosnan.

Another change for Finland.

Sällström is replaced by Rantanen.

RTÉ have named the likely match-winner Denise O’Sullivan as player of the match.

We’re entering into stoppage time now.

As I type, Payne’s goalbound effort is deflected wide by Westerlund.

There will be four minutes of stoppage time…

There are some more nervy moments, with Finland enjoying plenty of possession deep inside Ireland territory, but the visitors eventually win a free-kick to relieve the pressure.

So that’s that.

A big result for Ireland in the context of this group.

Finland, as the second seeds, would have been expecting to win this game.

Vera Pauw’s side are now in a very strong position for that second-place spot in the group that would earn them a place in the play-offs.

That said, they have been in promising positions before in qualification, and so will know there is no room for complacency with six games still to play.

However, when you consider this result alongside the narrow loss to Sweden and the recent win over Australia, there is obvious evidence to suggest the team are making genuine progress under Pauw.

katie-mccabe-with-tuija-hyyrynen Ireland's Katie McCabe with Tuija Hyyrynen of Finland. Source: Kalle Parkkinen/INPHO

Right, that’s all from me for now.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Stay tuned, as we’ll have plenty of post-match reaction to follow.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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