Ireland 0 (3) vs.0 (2) Spain
Match 34/Semi Final
2.00 Push Back
Ireland has had a dream of a world cup and the media from the Emerald Isle covering their successes has doubled and trebled in recent days. Their route to this semi final has surprised people even in their own country. Spain has also raised a few eyebrows getting to where they are now. The highest that they have placed before was fourth in the 2006 edition of the competition, when they hosted it in Madrid. Their captain Georgina Oliva is the only surviving member of that squad and she will be key for them today in her play making role.
Ireland start brightly and within two and a half minutes a crossed pass finds a Spanish foot inside their circle for an Ireland short corner. It’s sent towards the right hand post from the first castle. Anna O’Flanagan taps it in for her second goal of the tournament; Ireland 1 – 0 Spain.
We see another drive into the Spanish circle and we get the second short corner of the match for the Green Army, with a little under five minutes remaining. Alison Meeke fires it towards the keeper. The shot is blocked and Spain win the second phase with the award of a hit out. Towards the end of the quarter the Red Sticks are coming further forward, but can’t get past the Irish defence. At the end of the quarter there is only one goal in it, but it’s for everybody’s second team; 1 – 0 at the break.
In the fifth minute of the second period a 45 degree pass from Lola Riera sees Shirley McCay put the ball into her own net, making the Irish fans nervous. The initial attacking touch was outside of the circle, though, meaning it’s only a long corner. Spain are coming out a bit more than in previous games. Carola Salvatella tries an ambitious effort with her back to goal and through her own legs, but the shot goes wide. With twelve minutes played in this quarter Anna O’Flanagan pounces on a missed interception, releases her team mate on the right flank and Ireland move up the pitch. The move takes them to the top of the Spanish circle for a shot, but it goes wide of the left hand post. With less than a minute remaining of the half, Ireland get another short corner. The shot is taken towards the Spanish keeper’s right, Maria Ruiz planks and Spain clear their lines. Ireland still lead one goal to nothing at half time.
After the break, Ireland come out with a real sense of ambition. And within two minutes win their fourth corner of the match. Kathryn Mullan plays it to the right hand post, but her team mate slips and puts her body onto the ball and the Spanish again possession. In the fourth minute, after nicking the ball off an Irish pass, Spain counter attack and win a short corner. Ireland refers to the video umpire saying that the ball was lifted into the defender, rather than it being kicked. It was a foul on the their defender and the Irish get a free hit out.
Nine minutes into the second half, Ireland give the ball away after another high press. The Spanish are looking to force turnovers high up the pitch on their strong side. The ball goes out to the right and sent across the Irish goal. Alicia Magaz gets the equaliser. Both sides are on one goal each and now it’s a true test of character for both sets of players. After 45 minutes the scores are Ireland 1 – 1 Spain.
It’s all to play for in the fourth quarter and soon after the restart Georgina Oliva wins the ball, works it over to Berta Bonastre who dummies allowing the ball to roll past her. Alicia Magaz picks the ball up high on the right wing, cuts inside and takes a reverse stick, which goes over Ayeisha McFerran’s cross bar. With four minutes remaining Georgina Oliva is shown a green card for a sturdy challenge on the Irish ball carrier. Ireland look to take advantage of the extra player. Deirdre Duke gets the ball touched towards her inside Spanish circle, looks for the deflection but hits the on rushing Maria Ruiz. Half a minute later Ireland ask for a short corner for a foot in the Spanish circle. The video umpire gives it and Ireland get the chance to have an attempt to win it with the game almost over. The shot at goal deflects up and hits the keeper, Ireland look for the second phase, but Spain counter attack. This is shut out by ithe Green Army’s defence and it becomes a bit end to end. At full time it’s one goal apiece. We go to shuffles, the second for both teams in this knockout phase of the competition.
Ireland are to take the first of the penalty shuffles, with Gillian Pinder takes stepping up for her team. Her effort is saved intially by Ruiz, but put in at the second attempt. Spain use their team referral, claiming a stick tackle as Ruiz makes the first save on Pinder. It’s a waste, the goal stands. Begona Garcia takes on McFerran. She takes the reverse stick, but it goes wide.
Anna O Flannagan is up next. She tries to spin Ruiz and the umpire gives a free out for Spain for blocking the keepers attempt to save it and Ireland refer. The video umpire turns the decision over and gives Ireland a retake. Anna O’Flanagan tries the same thing, running to the left and trying to spin to the right, but misses the goal. Beatriz Perez for Spain. McFerran makes the first save with her chest and then win the second phase. Zero from two for the Spanish.
Roisin Upton is to take the third for Ireland. She looks to round the keeper, finds the space but misses the target. Georgina Oliva to take the third for her side. She slots it into the bottom corner. One goal for each team as we go into the fourth round of shuffles.
Next up is Alison Meeke, who scored in the previous set of shuffles. She tries to slip it through the legs of Maria Ruiz, but doesn’t find the gap and it’s saved. Carlota Petchame looks to take the lead. She tries to send McFerran off balance, but the keeper stands strong and makes a save; no goal.
Chloe Watkins is to take the fifth shuffle. She spins the keeper and scores. Lola Riera needs to score this to stay in the game. She lobs the keeper and the ball crosses the line. It’s two from five for both teams and we go into sudden death. Spain now go first. It is a shut out by Ayeisha McFerran, with some strong goal keeping. Gillian Pinder knows that she can win it now. She scores and sends Ireland to their first ever World Cup Final.