Day 7: O’Limipco
Ireland, Zambia and Costa Rica all bow out of the competition
Canada 2 - Republic of Ireland 1
Before this World Cup, I wrote a prediction piece which said that Katie McCabe would both pick up a yellow card in the tournament and score an incredible goal. Enter stage left, Ireland’s group game against Canada whereby McCabe curled a corner in over the flailing arms of Kailen Sheridan to score Ireland’s first ever World Cup goal. She picked up that yellow card in the 98th minute too, desperately trying to keep Ireland’s World Cup hopes alive.
Canada had made a couple of changes since their opening draw against Nigeria with Jessie Fleming fit to start in place of Christine Sinclair and Evelyn Viens replacing Deanne Rose. This match was the first time in six World Cups (not matches, tournaments) where Sinclair was not starting for Canada.
But having gone behind, Canada struggled to deal with the pressure, with aimless long balls and wasted crosses far too easy for the Irish to deal with. If it wasn’t for an unfortunate Megan Connolly own goal on the stroke of half-time, Ireland would have been leading at the break.
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Canada manager Bev Priestman made three changes with Shelina Zadorsky replacing Kadeisha Buchanan (who had struggled to deal with Irish striker Kyra Carusa), Sophie Schmidt replacing Julia Grosso, and Christine Sinclair replacing Evelyn Viens. Sinclair and Schmidt both brought a greater sense of control to the Canadian midfield with Jessie Fleming able to spend less time trying to douse fires of Canada’s own making and more time getting the ball forward. Adriana Leon’s eventual winner was well-taken but had been coming.
So Ireland bow out of what was a very difficult group, having shown that they could more than hold their own defensively. They have been unfortunate that a couple of errors in both games have been so costly but without a complete attacking plan, defensive errors will become more outsized in tournament football. In their final group match against Nigeria they have the opportunity to at least pick up a World Cup win.
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