England back on track in Euro 2025 qualifying with win over Republic of Ireland

By Sports Desk April 09, 2024

England got a first Euro 2025 qualifying win on the board as they defeated the Republic of Ireland 2-0 at the Aviva Stadium.

Four days on from being held 1-1 by Sweden at Wembley in their Group A3 opener, Sarina Wiegman’s reigning European champions went in front via Lauren James’ 12th-minute finish.

They were then awarded two penalties for handball, with defender Alex Greenwood converting the first in the 18th minute before sending the second against a post in the 30th.

After the break England substitute Fran Kirby was thwarted by a fine Courtney Brosnan save, and Hannah Hampton – selected over Mary Earps in the Lionesses goal – then parried Caitlin Hayes’ header as the Republic applied late pressure in front of a crowd of 32,742.

Wiegman’s side sit second in the pool behind France, who have six points after beating Sweden 1-0, while Eileen Gleeson’s Ireland remain without a point, having lost 1-0 to the French in their first game last Friday.

England are next in action with a double-header against France in June.

Wiegman opted to make five changes to her starting line-up from the Sweden match, which as well as Hampton replacing Earps included fit-again skipper Leah Williamson returning for her first appearance in just under a year.

Hampton claimed an early Irish corner but England were soon on the front foot and after Alessia Russo’s header was dealt with by Brosnan, the visitors grabbed the lead when Keira Walsh crossed from the left, Lucy Bronze’s knock-down bounced off Anna Patten and the loose ball was drilled in by James.

The advantage was then swiftly doubled after a shot from Jess Park – another brought into the England XI – struck the arm of Ruesha Littlejohn, Finnish referee Lina Lehtovaara gave a penalty and it was scored by Greenwood as Brosnan went the wrong way.

Just before the half-hour mark Lehtovaara was once more pointing to the spot having judged the Republic guilty of handball, this time penalising Louise Quinn after the ball hit her leg then arm as she battled with Russo to get to a Hemp cross – a decision that prompted considerable protests from the hosts.

Greenwood stepped up to take again, but the outcome was different as her strike from 12 yards came back off the inside of the right post.

James saw a 39th-minute shot gathered by Brosnan before the early stages of the second half saw Wiegman send on Beth Mead and Kirby and Ireland make substitutions that included the introduction of Megan Campbell.

Mead and Kirby combined, with the latter being denied by Brosnan’s excellent stop, but having struggled to produce much in attack Ireland began to show more threat in the final quarter of an hour.

Campbell’s long throw led to a free-kick, Katie McCabe lofted it towards Quinn and she sent the ball into the danger zone, but no green shirt could finish.

Hayes then put one header wide before seeing another moments later blocked by Hampton.

Soon after, Hampton accidentally kicked the ball against the nearby McCabe, who brought another save out of the Chelsea goalkeeper as the Republic’s late push proved in vain.

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