Austria vs N.Ireland
After a humbling 4-1 defeat at the hands of Norway, Northern Ireland were looking to make amends and prevent themselves from crashing out of the Women’s Euro 2022 with one game to go. This was their international tournament debut, and it was no surprise that they have not been inspiring. Coach Kenny Shiels was positive though. The former international said before the game that his side was “excited and relishing the challenge.”
Their counterparts, Austria suffered a slender 1-0 defeat against hosts and group favorites, England. Irene Fuhrmann’s side was out-shot and out possessed by a star-studded England team, but the only goal came in the 16th minute from Beth Mead. They put up a brave fight but lost. They would take comfort knowing that their remaining two group games were very winnable. Captain Marissa Callaghan dedicated the match to injured star woman Simone Magill.
Austria started on the strong foot and established dominance
The Austrians in their typical red and white started brightly and piled on the early pressure for about 12 minutes. They looked to unsettle the N. Ireland backline, but the defending repelled them early on. Lauren Wade provided some spark for N. Ireland as she tested Arsenal’s Manuela Zinsberger from range. The shot was comfortably saved. Jacqueline Burns had to rush off the line to prevent the very bright Sarah Zadrazil from opening the scoring on 15 following a defensive mix up.
After the early pressure, Austria got their deserved goal. A low free-kick deflected off the two woman wall into the path of Katharina Schiechtl, who side-footed the ball home. Austria 1-0 N.Ireland. Even after a cooling break, the Austrian onslaught continued as their opponent had no idea how to deal with the well-oiled machine in front of them. Burns nearly gifted Austria a second in the 37th minute. Her nerves were showing. Minutes later, she gave the ball away to Dunst, who lobbed her. She recovered brilliantly to tip the effort over.
N. Ireland had a penalty shout before halftime when Carina Wenninger pushed Sarah McFadden over in the box as they contested for a cross. Nothing given! Kirsty McGuinness then fired off a left-footed effort, but it was easy for the keeper.
In the second half, N. Ireland showed effort and heart but were ultimately outclassed
Austria took charge of the second half immediately and forced their opponents into hasty clearances. N.Ireland continued to toy with danger. Miscalculated and risky passes kept creeping in, and Dunst was always quick to pounce. On 64, she showed how dangerous she was, controlling and volleying at goal. Burns’ nerves had her awkwardly pushing the ball out for a corner when she could have saved.
Minutes later, McGuinness showed good trickery before firing a low shot that Austria cleared. Burns was struggling to deal with every little thing that came her way. Even simple catches had fans gasping. On 86, substitute Laura Feiersinger hit a speculative strike that only swerved off the top of the post. Katharina Naschenweng put the bow on proceedings late on when she controlled a ball misjudged by the N. Ireland defense before slotting home. Game over!
Barring a miracle, N.Ireland are out while Austria will be keenly looking at the tie between England and Norway. Austria put on a clinical performance at St Mary’s to keep their hopes of qualification to the next round alive and well.