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Dublin: 3°C Sunday 28 February 2021


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Hello, and welcome to tonight’s liveblog.

To put this game in context, Ireland currently sit second in Group I for the Euro 2021 qualifier.

So far in the campaign, they have secured home wins over Montenegro (2-0) and Ukraine (3-2), in addition to a 1-1 draw away against Greece in their last competitive match.

In that game, Amber Barrett gave Ireland a 13th-minute lead, before Anastasia Spyridonidou’s last-gasp equaliser.

Aside from Germany, who have four wins from four, the Greeks are looking the main rivals to Vera Pauw’s side. They are currently on four points from three matches, and are the only side apart from the Irish and the Germans to have picked up points in the group.

Consequently, tonight’s game looks pretty crucial from an Irish perspective — a win would put the Girls in Green six points clear, whereas a loss would see the Greeks go level on points with them and increase pressure on the Irish to get a result when they travel to face Montenegro next week.

Confirmation of the Irish team tonight.

Having come out of retirement, Aine O’Gorman comes straight back into the side to win her 101st cap.

Who do you think will win?

Poll Results:

Ireland (401)
Greece (38)
Draw (36)

You can check out some of our pre-match coverage here…

We’re under way…

It’s been a fairly scrappy opening.

Neither side has really threatened yet.

Ireland have their first attempt.

Ruesha Littlejohn finds a bit of space, and her audacious effort from outside the box goes over.

Greece have a very defensive set-up. Nearly every one is behind the ball when Ireland have possession.

Chance for Ireland!

It’s a brilliant crossfield pass by Caldwell that sets it up.

She finds Payne, whose low cross narrowly eludes the lurking Jarrett.

Another decent chance!

Jarrett pulls the ball back across the box.

Payne scuffs the initial shot, but it falls to O’Sullivan, who forces the save from the Greek goalkeeper.

Ireland look very dangerous any time they get a bit of space and a chance to counter.

The hosts are very much the dominant side so far.

The game has calmed down a bit, after a spell where Ireland were putting real pressure on the Greek defence.

The visitors have been effective at slowing the game down on occasion, taking plenty of time over free kicks et cetera.

Nervy moment for Ireland.

Hourihan comes and fails to claim Moraitou’s corner, and there’s a bit of a goalmouth scramble, with O’Gorman ultimately needing to clear it off the line.

Louise Quinn gets her head to an Ireland corner, but can’t direct it on target.

Moments later, Littlejohn charges forward towards the box, and goes down under a challenge from Chatzinikolaou, but the referee waves play on.

The hosts continue to look the more threatening side.

aine-ogorman-and-anastasia-moraitou Ireland's Aine O’Gorman and Anastasia Moraitou of Greece. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

There’s been a bit of a lull in the last few minutes.

Ireland have been the better side, but will need to be patient if they are to break down this stubborn, well-organised Greek team.

Greece counter through Sidira.

She goes past Quinn before firing well wide from about 30 yards out.

Ireland were very open there and will need to be careful to avoid getting exposed on the break.

Ireland threaten again.

O’Gorman plays a good ball down the line for McCabe.

However, the Arsenal star can only find the roof of the net with her cross.

Nice move from Ireland.

After good work from O’Gorman, Littlejohn skips past one player, but Sidira, who has impressed so far, is well positioned to make the interception.

Ireland score on the brink of half-time.

Diane Caldwell gets her second goal for her country on the occasion of her 75th cap.

It starts with a deep free kick by McCabe. Quinn gets there first and heads it across goal, and her central defensive colleague is in the right place to slot home an easy tap-in.

Greece barely have time to kick off before the referee blows the half-time whistle.

Ireland are the only side that have really tried to play and deserve their first-half lead.

The second half has begun…

Jarrett finds space after eluding her marker down the left.

She finds Payne at the far post, but the attacker can’t direct her header on target.

Louise Quinn has been in the wars.

She suffers a clash of heads with Christina Kokoviadou.

Both players look okay to continue, thankfully.

Ireland have changed their set-up slightly in this second half.

Littlejohn has switched to a wide attacking role, with McCabe moving more central.

Ireland go close twice through Littlejohn.

Her initial shot is parried, before she fires a second attempt over when she would have been better off squaring it to an unmarked McCabe.

The hosts continue to look the superior side.

Confirmation of tonight’s attendance…

Worrying scenes for the Irish team.

Heather Payne pulls up and has to go off injured.

In her place, Julie-Ann Russell comes on for her 59th cap.

Greece make a double change. Kongouli and Moraitou go off, as Vardali and Sarri come on in their place.

It looks like Greece are now adopting a more attacking approach, as they search for an equaliser.

Chance for Greece!

Sarri breaks down the left and crosses for Chatzinikolaou, who can’t steer her effort on target much to the home fans’ relief.

Meanwhile, Ireland have made a change, with Jarrett replaced by Amber Barrett.

Great play from Littlejohn, who beats her marker.

She shifts it onto her right foot, before shaving the crossbar with a shot from the edge of the area.

The West Ham star has impressed tonight.

Moments later, Sarri’s long-range shot drifts just wide. She has Hourihan worried — the Ireland goalkeeper dived frantically to her left in an attempt to stop the shot.

Amber Barrett is marginally offside, as she collects a long ball and chips the ‘keeper to find the net. It was still an excellent finish.

Ireland will be eager to get the all-important second goal, particularly with the memory of what happened the last time the sides met.

Greece make a change.

Anastasia Spyridonidou, who came off the bench to score the equaliser in the last game between these sides, is looking to do the exact same thing here.

Ireland make a final change.

Ruesha Littlejohn, who has done well tonight having had a long spell out of the team, is replaced by Clare Shine.

McCabe plays it to Barrett.

The 24-year-old FC Köln attacker turns on the edge of the area and curls a shot narrowly wide.

RTÉ Sport’s Lisa Fallon has awarded Ruesha Littlejohn the player-of-the-match award.

She also singles out Denise O’Sullivan and Diane Caldwell, who have been similarly impressive.

There will be five minutes of stoppage time…

Greece are going all-out attack now.

They’re still struggling to create chances though.

katie-mccabe-and-despoina-chatzinikolaou Ireland's Katie McCabe and Despoina Chatzinikolaou of Greece. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A nervy moment for Ireland, as a free kick by Sidira is pumped into the box.

However, Hourihan does well to hold onto it.

It’s a big win for Ireland.

It wasn’t always pretty to watch, but they did the job ultimately, thanks to a well-worked winning goal from Diane Caldwell.

They’ve now consolidated second place in the group, going six points ahead of the Greeks, who are third.

They can travel to Montenegro next week knowing that they are in a strong position.

The Irish team largely dominated proceedings and deserved their victory, though it was a tense finish given their slender lead, with fears history would repeat itself, after the Greeks got a last-gasp equaliser against the Irish in Athens last November.

Right, that’s it from me for now. Thanks for reading and following.

We’ll have more reaction to follow.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy


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