Ireland’s Womens team were on their way to a credible draw against Italy in Monday night’s friendly game at the Oscar Traynor Road Complex in Dublin after Gillian McDonnell’s equaliser from a free-kick made it 1-1 with ten minutes to go.
However, the visitors secured a 2-1 win in stoppage time with a deflected goal. The strike came in the cruellest of fashions after a shot from the edge of the penalty area deep into added time by Italy midfielder Sampietro flicked off an Irish defender and diverted into the back of net.
The Irish, who are preparing for the inaugural UEFA Championships qualifying series in October, produced an excellent second half display to push the Italians all the way and were full value for the equaliser they found after 80 minutes.
Julie-Anne Russell was involved in the Irish goal, tipping a free-kick into the path of the onrushing Gillian McDonnell to blast the ball high into the net beyond the reach of the Italy goalkeeper.
The visitors had taken a first-half lead through Mara Ferretti on 25 minuets when she was left unmarked at the back post to stroke the ball home with ease.
Ireland worked hard throughout the opening half without unnerving the Italy defence but gradually grew in confidence and were eventually rewarded with McDonnell’s leveller.
Italy continued to pile players forward in search of another goal and even after it arrived, Ireland had an opportunity to draw level for a second time when substitute Becky Walsh was left alone in the penalty area on 93 minutes only to spurn the chance.
The nations meet again on Wednesday, also at the Oscar Traynor Road Complex, for the second in the pair of the friendly matches.
Ireland have been grouped with Turkey, Moldova and Sweden in the UEFA Championship qualifying first round and the mini-group will be contested from October 19th - 24th.
Ireland team v Italy: