The Republic of Ireland Women’s Under-19s got their EURO 2020 qualifying campaign off to a strong start today by defeating Ukraine 2-0.
Dave Connell’s side are in the Netherlands for three games and seeking to secure a place in the Elite Round of the UEFA competition.
A goal in each half, along with a clean sheet, was enough to see Ireland claim the three points at the Sportpark Zegersloot in Alphen aan den Rijn.
Shelbourne midfielder Jessica Ziu, pictured, put Ireland ahead on 34 minutes with a free-kick straight from the training ground – Ziu won the free herself and slotted it past the goalkeeper and into the bottom right corner.
Aoife Slattery of Wexford Youths doubled their lead just after the hour mark, hitting the net with 61 minutes on the clock. Slattery rose highest to meet a corner and made it 2-0 to Ireland.
Head Coach Connell said that he was delighted with many aspects of the game and was pleased that the two goals came from set-pieces which had been worked on in training during the week.
Connell said: “It is always good to see moves that we worked on in training work out for the players. There were lots of positives from the game for us. We’re obviously glad to have got the win and to have kept a clean sheet also.
“And with qualification in mind, the win is important. But we probably should have scored more goals. We had the chances, but just didn’t convert them. We will work on that ahead of the next game.”
Ireland dominated for most of the game, having 25 shots on goal, compared to Ukraine’s 11, and the majority of the possession.
Connell said his squad are already looking ahead to Saturday’s game against Montenegro, with a view to building on today’s win.
He said: “Ukraine were a good side today, so we had to work hard to get the win. It was a good team performance which is important with the rest of the campaign in mind. Emily Whelan didn’t get on the scoresheet today, but she was excellent for us. She worked extremely hard and created plenty of chances for the team. We’ll work hard for the next few days and will be looking forward to Saturday’s game.”
In the other game in Group 9, Netherlands overcame Montenegro 6-0 so they occupy top spot at this early stage with the two best teams qualifying for the Elite Round.
Republic of Ireland: Rachael Kelly, Zara Foley (Leah Brady 84), Eabha O’Mahony, Roisin McGovern, Aoife Slattery, Sinead Donovan (Mia Dodd 71), Izzy Atkinson (Niamh Reynolds 71), Rebecca Cooke (Kayla Brady 78), Alannah McEvoy, Jessica Ziu, Emily Whelan (Sophie Liston 84).
Ukraine: Anna-Mariia Kryschyshyn, Nadiia Veherych, Anastasiia Nemets (Alina Godunko 21), Romana Lukach, Liudmyla Kunina (Kateryna Kuksa 63), Oksana Bilokur (Anastasiia Kuzmych 73), Alisa Bordiug, Iryna Kotiash, Oleksandra Krevska, Anastasiia Kurdiuk, Anna Lemeshuk.