30.05.2007 at 19:45 Belfield Park
Referee: Tanja Schett (Austria)
European Qualifier / Prog-match
Elaine O Connor
Ciara Mary Grant
Olivia O Toole
Statto: Olivia O'Toole's 50th Career goal
Back Row:Grant,Curtis,Boyle, S.Byrne, Fahey, Taylor
Front Row: O'Connor, E Byrne, Curtain, O'Toole, Moore
Pictures from the match
The Republic of Ireland Women’s team suffered their first defeat of the 2009 European Championship qualifying series when Italy edged Noel King’s side at Belfield in this Group Two tie.
Having beaten Hungary 2-1 and Italy having lost their first game to Sweden by the only goal this was always going to be an absorbing affair.
Ireland staged a late comeback after finding themselves two goals behind early in the second half. Olivia O’Toole reduced the deficit with her 50th international goal but Ireland couldn’t force the issue to pick up what would have been a valuable draw in their bid to reach their first-ever UEFA finals.
Ireland went into the match full with optimism after claming a victory over Hungary in their opening UEFA qualifier last month but they cam unstuck against a classy Italian side who rarely let the control of the contest slip from their grasp.
Italy looked dangerous on the attack from the early stages and broke the deadlock when Paliotti’s shot from the left side of the penalty area squirmed through the hands of Irish goalkeeper Emma Byrne and up into the net.
Ireland had started well and Olivia O'Toole set up Katie Taylor with defence splitting pass but with Taylor hesitating the Italy defence got back to clear.
After 11 minutes Stephanie Curtis had a shot on goal that tested the Italian keeper Marchitelli.
Ireland had a lucky break after 16 minutes when Panico the Italian captain got through the Irish defence and with only Byrne to beat dragged the ball wide. It was surprising that the over officious referee had failed to spot the free as Katie Taylor became the sandwich between the two Italian midfielders following the Irish throw in.
Italy’s captain, Patrizia Panico, doubled their advantage eleven minutes after half-time with an exquisite chip over Byrne from 20 yards - the referee having played superb advantage after Paliotti had been fouled - the ball breaking loose to her on the edge of the penalty area.
Ireland were unfortunate not to open their account after 14 minutes when a lovely move starting with Stephanie Curtis set up Sharon Boyle who split the Italian defence and her cross went agonisingly across the six yard line with no Irish forward able to get on the end of it.
Laura Hislop made a telling impact as a substitute when, within two minutes of coming on for Sharon Boyle, she set up Ireland’s goal after 75 minutes.
The Predators winger peeled off her marker on the left flank before delivering a pinpoint cross into the penalty area to allow Olivia O’Toole head back across goal an into the corner for her 50th career goal.
Ireland had a scare when Gabbiadini made a great run and got down to the backline, her cross was cleared off the goaline by Susan Byrne.
Ireland threw everybody forward and caused a few nervous moments in the Italy box in particular when O'Toole having been set up by Ciara Grant brought the best out of Marchitelli when she got down right in the corner to tip O'Toole's shot out for a corner.
Ireland continued to force the issue and O'Brien after a great run passed to O'Toole but her shot was under hit and Marchitelli saved easily.
Ireland will have the chance to get their qualification ambitions back on track when they travel to play Romania on August 25th, followed by a home game against the same opposition on October 27th.
IRELAND: Emma Byrne (Arsenal), Niamh Fahy (Salthill Devon), Susan Byrne (St. John’s University, NY), Alisha Moran (NY Athletic Club), Sharon Boyle (Raheny United), Elaine O’Connor (Long Island Fury), Marie Curtin (Hofstra University), Ciara Grant (Arsenal), Stephanie Curtis (Bristol Academy), Olivia O’Toole (Raheny United), Katie Taylor (Peamount United).
Subs: Michele O'Brien (Long Island Lady Riders) for O’Connor (64 mins), Laura Hislop (Predators) for Boyle (73 mins), Sonya Hughes (Franklin Pierce) for Taylor (83 mins).
ITALY: Marchitelli, Gama, Cassanelli, Tuttini, Tona, Perelli, Gabbiadini, Barbierato, Panico (captain), Zorri, Paliotti.
Subs: Domenichetti and Fuselli for Gabbiadini and Paliotti (both 86 mins). D’Adda for Barbierato (91 mins)
Referee: Tanja Schett (Austria).