Irlande 4 (R Upton, H McLoughlin, Z Malseed, N Carey), France 1 (G van Bolhuis)
Ireland overcame their first hurdle in the World Cup qualifiers in Pisa on Thursday morning by beating France 4-1 to advance to Saturday’s semi-final against Belarus (11:00 am Irish time). The winner of this match will advance to Sunday’s final where the winner’s prize will be a place for next year’s World Cup in Spain and the Netherlands.
Although he took advantage of most of the possession and created clearer chances, it took Ireland 32 minutes to break through French resistance, with Roisín Upton shooting at home from a penalty corner won by Sarah Hawkshaw.
They were, however, indebted to Ayeisha McFerran six minutes later when she made a superb save to prevent Marie Simon from her corner, but Ireland stepped up a gear in the last quarter to secure the game.
Shortly after Michelle Carey hit the French post after being set up by Deirdre Duke, Hannah McLoughlin made it 2-0 with a backhand from the penalty spot, retaining her form in front of goal this season after scoring eight in just five games for UCD.
Zara Malseed d’Ards widened the lead three minutes later and while Guusje van Bolhuis pulled one away for France in one minute, Niamh Carey responded instantly by scoring her debut with a goal, the UCD player, the twin. of Michelle, the first to rebound after Ellen Curran’s shot was saved.
“It’s something we talked about, sticking to the process no matter how long the game went 0-0, or even if we concede,” Upton said. “We were really happy to have stuck to the plan and to have taken the plunge. We knew we had to win corners – the execution in the first half wasn’t so good we had to pick it up and nail it. Getting on the scoresheet at the start of the second half settled everyone. “
As the tournament’s seed, Ireland will be favorites to gain the upper hand over Belarus who, at 21, are ranked nine places below them in the world list. They will be wary of them, however, having beaten a Russian side ranked above them 7-1 in the opener in Pisa.
Ireland: McFerran, M Carey, Upton, Mullan, Tice, Carroll, McLoughlin, Watkins, Hawkshaw, O’Flanagan, N Carey. Subscribers: Murphy, Getty, Malseed, Torrans, Duke, Curran, McAuley.