Home » Republic of Ireland 3-2 Zambia: Irish Beat Fellow World Cup Debutants in Warm-Up
Featured Global News News Sports

Republic of Ireland 3-2 Zambia: Irish Beat Fellow World Cup Debutants in Warm-Up

The Republic of Ireland fought back from a goal down to defeat Zambia 3-2 in a World Cup warm-up match in Dublin.

Zambia took a shock lead in the 17th minute when unfortunate goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan put into her own net.

Amber Barrett netted a penalty early in the second half before Claire O’Riordan’s powerful header put the hosts in front.

Barrett’s lobbed finish added a third on 71 minutes before Rachael Kundananji pulled one back late on.

Captain Katie McCabe was one of a number of players rested by manager Vera Pauw, who will trim her squad from 32 players to a final 23 for the World Cup on Thursday.

The Republic will play France on 7 July in their final warm-up match at Talaght Stadium before their first-ever World Cup game against co-hosts Australia on 20 July

Zambia, ranked 77th in the world compared to Ireland in 22nd, are also making their World Cup debut this summer.

Banda stars as Zambia take early lead

The hosts made a blistering start when Izzy Atkinson played in a brilliant ball which Leanne Kiernan could only touch wide, and moments later Claire O’Riordan saw a header blocked and her hooked follow-up was over the crossbar.

Banda, the standout player in the first-half, shot into the side netting, before Rachael Kundananji’s powerful cross was turned over by O’Rioidan and Siomara Mapepa also hit the side netting with a rasping strike.

Their pressure was rewarded on 17 minutes when Banda beat opposite captain Louise Quinn on the byline and her cross took a deflection off Atkinson, hit the post and touched in off the unfortunate Brosnan.

Ireland looked for an immediate response and Saoirse Noonan fired over but they struggled to get a foothold in the game, with several players who have lacked minutes this season showing a signs of missing match sharpness.

Kiernan had the best chance of when she thought she had broke the offside trap to control Niamh Fahey’s long ball and tuck the ball into the bottom corner, but the assistant referee brought play back – much to the frustration of the home support.

The hosts pressed in the closing stages of the first half and Abbie Larkin saw a header drift wide after some excellent build-up play, before Kiernan had an effort saved by Hazel Nali and Quinn headed onto the roof of the net from the resulting corner.

Zambia continued to look dangerous on the counter and Kundananji’s powerful shot tested Brosnan at the end of the half.

Zambia captain Barbra Banda was instrumental as the visitors took a surprise first-half lead
Zambia captain Barbra Banda was instrumental as the visitors took a surprise first-half lead

Barrett spot on as changes aplenty

Pauw made five changes at the interval, including handing a debut to teenager Erin McLaughlin, while Barrett, Chloe Mustaki, Harriet Scott and Ciara Grant were also introduced.

The Republic got an immediate equalier on 49 minutes when Evarine Susan Katongo was adjudged to have handed Abbie Larkin’s effort and Barrett, with her first touch, tucked the penalty into the bottom corner.

Captain Banda remained dangerous after the restart and her snapshot was straight at Brosnan, but the turnaround was complete on 64 minutes when O’Riordan’s powerful header from Megan Connolly’s perfect free-kick flew into the net.

Brosnan produced a strong diving save to tip away Kundananji’s low, curling effort but Barrett, who scored the goal in Scotland to fire the Irish to a first World Cup, ensured the win with a fine lobbed finish on 71 minutes after Nali only punched a corner half clear.

The Republic had a scare with 15 minutes to go when Banda broke through on goal but Brosnan timed her dive to perfection to keep the Zambian captain at bay, and a combination of Connolly and the stranded keeper kept the rebound out.

However, the visitors set up a grandstand finish when Kundananji kept her cool to slot the ball past Brosnan with 10 minutes to play but Pauw’s side held on to win.

Source : BBC