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Ireland will play Scotland in next Tuesday's World Cup play-off showdown

Hampden Park will host the clash, after the Scots overcame Austria tonight.

Ireland are bidding to reach their first-ever major tournament.
Ireland are bidding to reach their first-ever major tournament.
Image: Tom Maher/INPHO

THE REPUBLIC OF Ireland women’s national team will face Scotland in their historic World Cup play-off on Tuesday. 

Vera Pauw’s side will travel to Glasgow after Scotland’s 1-0 extra-time win over Austria at Hampden Park. The same venue will host Tuesday’s showdown [KO 8pm], as Pauw goes up against her former team.

Abi Harrison was the hosts’ goal-scoring hero tonight, as the super substitute turned in Erin Cuthbert’s corner at the start of the additional period to send Pedro Martínez Losa’s side through.

Ireland — looking to reach their first-ever major tournament — were safely waiting in the second round, having finished among the three best runners-up from the group stages. Iceland and Switzerland are the other two, the former travelling to Portugal next Tuesday and the latter hosting Wales after tonight’s other results.

Scotland-Austria was a game that had a draw written all over it for much of the second half, extra-time almost inevitable — which may, of course, work in Ireland’s favour — as a record crowd of 10,182 watched on.

It was an even contest for the most part, though a lack of quality in the final third let both sides down at times. Scotland did well after settling and looked good for much of the first half, with Real Madrid star Caroline Weir and Manchester United striker Matha Thomas creating opportunities. Julia Hickelsberger sent one just over at the other end before the break.

The Austrians were on top for most of the second half: Verena Hanshaw’s excellent long-range effort in the 67th minute tailing just wide, while Sarah Zadrazil and substitute Katja Wienerroither — who came on for Nicole Billa — had decent chances. 

But Scotland finished normal time strong, Chelsea ace Cuthbert recovering from a knock to send in string of corners in the closing minutes of the 90-plus. One on the restart was crucial: Harrison getting her head to a Cuthbert set-piece at the back post with 92 minutes on the clock.

The Scots held on to see the game out, though it wasn’t a case of parking the bus and last-ditch defending. They looked to push on, and came close to scoring another, but happily settled for a massive 1-0 win.

Earlier this evening, Portugal were 2-1 winners over Belgium, and they now host Iceland on Tuesday. Fatima Pinto’s 89th-minute strike ultimately settled the showdown after a dramatic ending at Estádio do FC Vizela.

There was some VAR chaos down the home straight, with Belgian substitute Amber Tysiak sent off and Carole Costa hitting the crossbar before Pinto scored off the back of a corner. Diana Silva bagged the hosts’ opener with 29 minutes on the clock, before Tessa Wullaert levelled matters with a 40th-minute penalty. It was an eventful night for Portugal’s Joana Marchão, who had two assist and gave away the penalty.

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And in tonight’s other game, Wales eventually prevailed against Bosnia and Herzegovina, setting up a date with Switzerland after extra-time in Cardiff. A new record attendance of 15,200 watched on, the hosts hitting the net four times in normal time, though all deemed offside, before Jess Fishlock proved the Welsh goal-scoring hero.

Of the second-round winners on Tuesday, the two with the highest ranking — based on results in the qualifying group stage and round two play-offs: three points for a win after 120 minutes, one for a win on penalties — will qualify directly for next summer’s World Cup, while the other nation head to New Zealand in February for the inter-confederation play-offs. The last three qualifying spots are up for grabs at that 10-team tournament.

A win for Ireland against Scotland will likely send them down that route — but the main hope for direct qualification is that Iceland are beaten by Portugal, unless there’s an unlikely slip-up for Switzerland.

Tuesday is the Girls In Green’s first-ever World Cup play-off, the closest they’ve ever come to reaching a major tournament this stage of Euro 2009. They were defeated 4-1 on aggregate by Iceland back then. 

Round Two Uefa – World Cup play-off fixtures
  • Scotland v Ireland
  • Portugal v Iceland
  • Switzerland v Wales.

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Emma Duffy

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