19.02.2022 at 15:00 La Manga
Referee: Valentová Zuzana (Slovakia).
Russia 1-0 WNT
An early goal proved to be the difference as a much-changed Republic of Ireland lost 1-0 to Russia in the Pinatar Cup in La Manga, Spain on Saturday evening.
20th Feb 2022
Vera Pauw always intended to use this fixture to give game-time to several players. Included amongst those changes were debuts given to goalkeeper Megan Walsh, defender Chloe Mustaki and forward Abbie Larkin.
The rotation of players breaks Katie McCabe's run of 42 consecutive starts which dates back to September 2016, while Diane Caldwell wore the captain's armband for the first time at senior level.
Mustaki became the 11th player from the Ireland Women's Under-19 squad that reached the semi-finals of the 2014 UEFA European Championships to earn a senior cap.
Russia made a fast start to the game with Walsh having to be on full alert when saving well inside the opening minutes but she could not keep out a close-range strike from Elizaveta Lazareva.
After good attacking play, Russia squared the ball to Nelli Korovkina to unload a shot and even though Walsh was equal to that Lazareva was there to covert from the rebound.
Ireland responded by playing some nice football and on 25 minutes it almost came together with Ellen Molloy dinking past three players to feed the ball to Larkin to shoot, but her effort was straight at the opposition goalkeeper.
Two minutes later, a breakaway saw Larkin slide a pass to Leanne Kiernan, who skipped inside her marker to fire a shot just over the crossbar. It felt like Ireland were getting closer to scoring with Amber Barrett also shooting too high soon afterwards.
Just before the interval, Kiernan took the responsibility on her own shoulders by attempting a long-range drive into the net but goalkeeper Julia Grichenko pushed it over her bar for a corner kick - from which Caldwell headed wide.
Unchanged at the break, Ireland continued in the second period to grow into the game and enjoyed more possession of the ball. Yet they couldn't find that breakthrough with Molloy shooting over with a speculative effort from distance.
On 70 minutes, Walsh saved superbly with her feet to deny Korovkina and again was called into a similar stop later on. It was an impressive debut for the Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper.
McCabe, who came on as part of a triple substitution, had a great chance to hit the target but her shot didn't trouble Grichenko.
Ireland will be disappointed with the result, but Pauw can pick out many positives and now knows that she can call on numerous players for the remainder of the FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying campaign should they be needed.
Next up is a Third-Place Play-Off on Tuesday against Wales in the same venue.
Russia: Julia Grichenko; Anna Belomyttseva, Kristina Mashkova, Elina Samoilova, Alsu Abdullina; Lina Iakupova, Tatiana Petrova, Elizaveta Lazareva, Marina Fedorova, Ekaterina Pantiukhina, Nelli Korovkina.
Republic of Ireland: Megan Walsh; Diane Caldwell, Claire Walsh, Chloe Mustaki; Áine O'Gorman (Katie McCabe 65), Amber Barrett (Ruesha Littlejohn 46), Jamie Finn, Ellen Molloy (Denise O'Sullivan 65), Isibeal Atkinson (Jess Ziu 46); Leanne Kiernan (Lucy Quinn 83), Abbie Larkin (Kyra Carusa 65).
Referee: Valentová Zuzana (Slovakia).
2022 Pinatar Cup Fixtures
Match A1 | Wales 3-1 Scotland, Pinatar Arena
Match A2 | Slovakia 0-4 Belgium, Pinatar Arena
Match B1 | Republic of Ireland 2-1 Poland, La Manga
Match B2 | Hungary 2-2 (0-3 pens) Russia, La Manga
A3 | Wales 0-0 (1-3 pens) Belgium, Pinatar Arena
A4 | Scotland 2-0 Slovakia, Pinatar Arena
B3 | Russia 1-0 Republic of Ireland, La Manga
B4 | Poland 1-2 Hungary, La Manga
Final | Belgium v Russia, Pinatar Arena, KO 20:30 (19:30 Irish Time)
3rd Place | Wales v Republic of Ireland, La Manga, KO 20:30 (19:30 Irish Time)
5th Place | Scotland v Hungary, Pinatar Arena, KO 15:30 (14:30 Irish Time)
7th Place | Slovakia v Poland, La Manga, KO 15:30 (14:30 Irish Time)