EURO 2025 qualifier report: Republic of Ireland 0 - 2 England

The Aviva Stadium hosted the Ireland v England showdown

The Aviva Stadium hosted the Ireland v England showdown Credit: Clare McCahill (ETPhotos)

Macdara Ferris reports from the Aviva Stadium

It was another spirited defensive performance from Ireland against one of the world’s big hitters but it was the case of null points in this Euro qualifier for the home team as late pressure from Ireland didn’t go rewarded.

England, the European Champions, came to town and took away a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Lauren James and Alex Greenwood but Ireland's display in the final quarter is something that the girls in green can certainly build on.

The challenge for Ireland in this group was well known, with fixtures against the world number two, three and six. The fact that the Irish women's side have never beaten Sweden, France or Tuesday’s opponents England was testament to the difficulties they faced and there was to be no surprises in this fixture.

The players spoke about wanting to be in this position playing some of the best teams in the world but it was a somewhat chastening experience for much of the game as England dominated the play.

Against France on Friday it was back to the walls stuff and it was a similar story against the Lionesses up until the hour mark anyway. That defensive discipline is something that this side can be proud of but they got so little relief as they couldn’t seem to keep the ball high up in England’s half in the first 45 minutes.

It didn’t seem to worry the sizeable home support who came to cheer on their heroes and see plenty of WSL superstars in the opposition XI. 

Eileen Gleeson’s side went the first six minutes of the match in Metx before conceding and then helf on for the rest of the game. Back on home turf in Dublin, it was double that time as they trailed to England in 12 minutes and were 2-0 down at the break.

As the half proceeded on two occasions Ireland defenders got their hands to the ball in their own box to concede penalties. The first was a crazy charge down by Ruesha Littlejohn on Jessica Park, a move that a Leinster player playing in the same venue might have been proud of.

The second was an unlucky deflection off Alessia Russo onto Louise Quinn’s arm that had Finnish referee Lina Lehtovaara pointing to the spot again.

Alex Greenwood took both spotkicks but only scored the first one in what was a real let off for Ireland.

The home side had earned an early and late corner in that opening 45 minutes but that was the most attacking threat they could muster. Kyra Carusa cut a lonely figure up top and it was another quiet night for Denise O’Sullivan as England rotated and kept possession with ease.

It certainly looked a case of women against girls with the European champions in Dublin, cheered on by a pocket of away fans at the northern end of the ground singing ‘Champions of Europe, we know what we are’.

England Head Coach Sarina Wiegman had made five changes to her team who drew at home to Sweden on Friday – with Mary Earps only a spectator on the bench - but it didn’t dilute England’s attacking threat. 

Lauren James got the opener when the ball fortuitously came back off Anna Patten when Lucy Bronze headed a cross field ball back across the six yard box. The Chelsea player made no mistake to rifle the shot low by Courtney Brosnan.

Greenwood scored her first penalty in the 17th minute with her left foot effort low to her left as Brosnan went the other way. She switched sides for her second and it clipped the right hand post and just avoided hitting Brosnan as it spun across the goalline. 

Keira Walsh ran the show for the visitors and Leah Williamson was relishing being back wearing the three lions. The England skipper’s her robust tackle on Carusa saw England break with Brosnan doing well to save James’ effort as the second half drew to close.

By then the shot clock reading 6-0 to England but, thankfully from an Ireland perspective, the scoreboard only read 2-0 to the visitors.

Gleeson withdrew Littlejohn at half time with Megan Connolly coming on in her place. When Megan Campbell came on after an hour it did at least give Ireland an outlet with her incredible long throw causing England all sorts of difficulties – it was certainly a case of ‘put them under pressure’.

Brosnan pulled off a brilliant close range save in the 65th minute after a cushioned Beth Mead header found the onrushing Ella Toone. Ireland had their best spells of possession mid-way through the half as some nice first touch passing kept the ball away from the Lionesses.

The fresh legs of Leanne Kiernan gave Ireland some additional attacking threat and 

And they should have socred in the 77th minute when a Katie McCabe free kick to Louise Quinn at the back post wasn’t turned home by Caitlin Hayes in the six yard box. The Celtic defender then forced a save from Hannah Hampton soon after.

A howler from Hampton almost handed McCabe a goal as the keeper blasted the ball from her hands straight at McCabe.

Republic of Ireland: Courtney Brosnan; Aoife Mannion, Caitlin Hayes, Louise Quinn, Anna Patten, Katie McCabe ©; Ruesha Littlejohn (Megan Connolly h/t); Heather Payne (Leanne Kiernan 56), Denise O'Sullivan, Lucy Quinn (Megan Campbell 61); Kyra Carusa (Emily Murphy 67).
Subs not used: Grace Moloney, Sophie Whitehouse, Jessie Stapleton, Diane Caldwell, Izzy Atkinson, Lily Agg, Tyler Toland, Amber Barrett.
Booked: Katie McCabe (90+1).

England: Hannah Hampton; Lucy Bronze, Leah Williamson ©, Alex Greenwood, Jessica Carter; Jess Park (Francesca Kirby 56), Keira Walsh, Ella Toone (Georgia Stanway 75); Lauren James (Chloe Kelly 86), Alessia Russo (Rachel Daly 86), Lauren Hemp (Beth Mead 56).
Subs not used: Mary Earps, Kayla Rendell, Niamh Charles, Millie Turner, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Grace Clinton, Esme Morgan.
Booked: None.
Sent off: None.

Referee: Lina Lehtovaara (Finland)
Attendance: 32,742 Player of the Match: Keira Walsh (England)