Republic of Ireland 0 -0 Portugal
Penalties (5) – (4)
The Irish started the game very lively and Hofstra midfielder, Marie Curtin had a number of opportunities early on to give Ireland the opener.
After eight minutes, the ever dangerous Olivia O’Toole broke down the right wing and played a neat ball to Curtin at the edge of the box, her in-swinging shot just clipped past the post to the relief of Simoes in the Portuguese goal.
Portugal should have been ahead after 18 minutes, in a well worked move a cross was sent over from the right wing and found Fernandes unmarked on the Irish six yard box; her header was saved at point blank range by Emma Byrne in the Irish goal.
The game burst into life with just a half an hour into the game, Aine O’Gorman started a patient build up in the Portuguese half, she laid the ball off for Curtin 30 yards out and her powerful, goal-bound shot was scrambled to safety by Simoes. The under-pressure keeper was on-hand to deny the Irish yet again when the resulting corner fell to Ciara Grant in the box but her header was straight at Simoes.
Portugal poured forward in search of the opener at the start of the second half; Catia Reis beat the offside trap to run straight through on goal, her rushed shot screwed agonisingly to the right of the Irish goal much to the relief of the Irish.
The Irish were under severe pressure from the tournament hosts for most of the second half but the defence stood firm and did not allow them any room in the final third of the field, with the introduction of Noelle Murray, Laura Hislop and Michele O’Brien, Ireland had an added freshness to their attack but it finished scoreless at full time to force the game to penalties.
Laura Hislop, Ciara Grant and Sharon Boyle made no mistake from the penalty spot while Arsenal Ladies keeper, Emma Byrne emphasised her dominance in the Irish goal with a brilliant save to the top right corner from Dani’s well-taken penalty.
Stephanie Curtis was unlucky to see her penalty effort inch just over the bar but Noelle Murray and Salthill Devon’s Niamh Fahy continued the scoring from the spot kicks as the penalty shoot-out went to sudden death.
Emma Byrne was the match winner for the Irish when she saved a powerful Neto penalty to ensure a victory for Noel King’s side in the Algarve Cup.
Irish manager Noel King was delighted with today’s performance, “It’s always nice to get the win but to win with such a good performance against a strong and talented Portuguese side makes the victory all the sweeter.”
King added, “Over all I am delighted with our performance in the Algarve Cup this year, we had two creditable draws against Portugal and Iceland, both which we should have won and then we battled incredibly hard against a class Italian team who went on to beat the World’s number one ranked team, Germany 1-0 in their play-off match while also Group C opponents, Iceland beat China comprehensively, reflecting the strength and competitive level of the Algarve Cup”
“I know the team have taken a lot from this opportunity and they are extremely looking forward to kicking-off their UEFA Championship campaign against Hungary on Sunday, April 1st in Richmond Park,” said King.
Republic of Ireland
Emma Byrne (Arsenal FC)
Sharon Boyle (Raheny United)
Marie Curtin (Hofstra University)
Alisha Moran (New York Athletic Club)
Niamh Fahey (Salthill Devon)
Diane Caldwell (Hofstra University)
Ciara Grant (Arsenal FC)
Aine O’Gorman (Stella Maris)
Susan Byrne (St.Johns College)
Olivia O’Toole (Raheny)
Stephanie Curtis (Bristol Rovers)
Sarah Peters (Michigan Phoenix)
Yvonne Tracy (Arsenal FC)
Sonya Hughes (New Hampshire Franklin Pierce)
Elaine O’Connor (Long Island Lady Riders)
Michele O’Brien (Long Island Lady Riders) on for Curtin, 67 Mins
Claire Scanlan (Bristol Academy FC)
Denise Thomas (Boston Renegades)
Laura Hislop (New Hampshire Phantoms) on for O’Toole, 85 Mins
Noelle Murray (Raheny) on for O’Gorman, 85 Mins