Northern Ireland’s wait for a historic first win at the European Championships goes on after a 2-0 defeat to Austria in Southampton. Goals either side of half time were enough to earn the points for Irene Fuhrmann’s side, who breezed to victory to keep their chances of reaching the knock-out stages alive.
The Green and White Army, who struggled for possession from the first whistle, found themselves camped in their own half for much of the match. They looked to hit on the counter attack and did force the first chance when Lauren Wade had a tame shot from distance saved, but it came as no surprise when they fell behind on 19-minutes as Katharina Schiechtl bundled home from close range after meeting Sarah Puntigam’s low free-kick.
It was nearly 2-0 before the break after Jacqueline Burns cheaply gifted possession to Barbara Dunst, but thankfully the goalkeeper was able to rush back and make a stunning save, tipping the ball onto the bar. At the other end, Kirsty McGuinness tried her luck in injury time, only to have a fierce strike comfortably stopped by Manuela Zinsberger.
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The second half continued in a similar pattern to the first. Austria pinned Northern Ireland back and came close to a second when Dunst fired goalwards from 20-yards, with Burns fumbling the ball over the bar.
Northern Ireland enjoyed a spell of possession mid-way through the second period, but it resulted only in Rachel Furness looping a header on to the roof of the net. Austria finally put the game to bed in the 88th minute when a ball over the top landed perfectly for Katharina Naschenweng, who fired home to make it 2-0.
TALKING POINT - Northern Ireland’s dream all but over
Northern Ireland have already made history by qualifying for the European Championships, the first major tournament in their history. However, with one group game to go, their hopes of reaching the knock-out stages are hanging by a thread.
Kenny Shiels’ side looked somewhat toothless in the final third, on the rare occasions that they managed to break forward. Although they defended much better as a unit compared to their opening match, a 4-1 defeat to Norway, they rarely threatened Austria, even before going behind.
Lauren Wade provided some attacking threat down the left wing, but she was often left isolated when she broke forward, and if it was not for the heroics of Jackie Burns, the scoreline could have been a lot harsher. Ultimately, the Green and White Army will be eliminated if Norway and England draw this evening’s clash.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Barbara Dunst (Austria). The midfielder was a constant threat for Austria, cutting in from the left hand side and using both feet to good effect as she came close scoring on numerous occasions.
The 24-year old, who plies her trade for Eintracht Frankfurt, tested Jackie Burns on a couple of occasions, firstly with a curling effort that required tipping onto the bar, before showing terrific technique to chest down a loose ball that she thundered goalwards as it dropped, only to be thwarted once more.
Northern Ireland full-back Rebecca McKenna was tasked with marking Dunst, and it’s a tribute to how well she played that the defender was substituted after 73-minutes after being given the run around in energy sapping conditions.
AUSTRIA: Zinsberger 6; Schiechtl 7, Wenninger 7, Schnaderbeck 6, Hanshaw 6; Puntigam 7; Hickelsberger-Fuller 7, Zadrazil 6, Hobinger 7, Dunst 8; Billa 7. Subs: Georgieva 6, Feiersinger 6, Naschenweng 7, Makas n/a
Subs: Pal, Hresche, Kirchberger, Schasching, Eder, Degen, Enzinger
NORTHERN IRELAND: Burns 8, McKenna 6, Vance 7, McFadden 7, Nelson 6, McCarron 6, Callaghan 6, Furness 6, K McGuinness 5, Wade 7, Holloway 6. Subs: Magee 6, Andrews n/a, Wilson n/a, C McGuinness n/a, McDaniel n/a
Subs: Flaherty, Turner, Hutton, Burrows, Caldwell, Rafferty
19’ GOAL! NORTHERN IRELAND 0-1 AUSTRIA (Schiechtl). There's the opener! Sarah Puntigam takes a free-kick from the corner of the area, whipping in a low ball with her left foot, and it's bundled home by Katharina Schiechtl.
43’ WHAT A SAVE! Burns was the hero and villain there. The goalkeeper gave possession away cheaply and that allowed Dunst to curl towards the top corner from the edge of the area, only for the Northern Ireland stopper to pull off a stunning save as she tipped the ball onto the bar
64’ DUNST COMES CLOSE. She's been the best attacking outlet on the pitch for Austria, and Dunst forces another save as she chests the ball down and fires goalwards. It should be an elementary stop for Burns, but she fumbles the ball over the bar
88’ GOAL! AUSTRIA 2-0 NORTHERN IRELAND (Naschenweng). And there's the three points wrapped up. Magee misjudges a ball over the top, it falls to Naschweng and the substitute finishes brilliantly
- Austria have now lost only two of their last 11 competitive games - with both of those defeats coming against England
- Northern Ireland have now suffered six successive defeats for the first time since 2018
England march into quarter-finals with five-goal win
Austria stun Norway to make quarter-finals
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