Sunday, May 4, 2008

OQT: Ireland 0 Italy 2

Ireland missed out on a rematch with Korea with a shock defeat to Italy on Friday to finish the group stages in third place and out of the final playoff game.

The Irish needed only a draw but Italy put the Irish under pressure immediately and had two good chances in a succession of penalty-corners but Mary Goode kept them at bay.

Ireland only had chances from penalty-corners, while Italy controlled most of the play in first half but were unable to break the deadlock before the break.

The Irish switched the momentum their way after the turnaround, controlling the ball well, forcing the Italians to chase the ball in a desperate attempt to force a win but only progressed with long hits or isolated runs.

The Irish attacks became more dangerous and Nikki Symmons - celebrating her 100th Cap - missed a golden opportunity when she deflected a drive just over the crossbar.

But the Irish were turned on their heals when Italy scored in the 56th minute with a direct shot by Chiara Tiddi. Now Ireland could not afford to sit back, and needed to push on and score.
This was made more diffiuclt when Bridget McKeever was sin-binned and Francesca Faustini added an insurance goal, triggering wild celebrations in the Italian camp.

In a desperate last move, Irish coach Gene Muller replaced his goalkeeper with an extra field player. The tactic generated two good chances in the final minutes but they just could not score, conceding to Italy the honour to play Korea in the Final.
To hear Ciara O'Brien's thoughts, click the image...

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