Macdara Ferris reports from the Gamla Ullevi
It was party time at the final whistle as Sweden secured qualification for the World Cup after the 1-1 draw. But they were made work so hard by an Irish side that pulled off what is probably their greatest ever result.
Katie McCabe’s late first half gave Ireland the lead that the kept until just 11 minutes from time before Real Madrid player Kosovare Asllani scored a brilliant goal to give them the point that booked their berth to the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The point from the 1-1 draw secured the home side a spot in the tournament next summer
It was backs to the wall stuff by Vera Pauw’s side throughout the whole game. The girls in green had got the benefit of a deflection to Katie McCabe’s shot but maybe it was a rich reward for their disciplined approach in the opening period.
As the ball ripped the back of the net the Swedish supporters were stunned into silence.
The Irish side knew it was going to be difficult taking on red hot favourites Sweden. Manager Vera Pauw went essentially with a back five. She brought Chloe Mustaki in at left back, with the Shels defender making her competitive debut. It allowed Ireland skipper Katie McCabe be deployed a bit further forward.
The Swedish side did have chances, mostly coming through Kosovare Asllani. The Real Madrid player came closest for the hosts in the first half, dinking one off the underside of the crossbar but it was one that bounced away to safety from an Ireland perspective.
Courtney Brosnan was called to be quick off her line on a number of occasion in the first 45 and she was assured throughout the game coming for crosses and pull off a couple of cracking saves.
Denise O’Sullivan, unsurprisingly, was pivotal for Ireland on the few occasions when they were able to get forward. She got on the end of a McCabe cross from the left early on but couldn’t direct the ball on target.
As she stepped onto the ball on 12 minutes, Hanna Bennison was possibly lucky to only get a yellow card from Romanian referee Iulianna Demetrescu. O’Sullivan’s nutmeg on Illestedt delighted the non-playing members of the Ireland squad sitting in front of the media.
McCabe had forced Hedvig Lindahl into a save five minutes before the break but it didn’t take her too much longer to beat the Swedish goalkeeper.
When O’Sullivan broke, Magdelena Eriksson took one for the team to pull the Cork player back. However, Ireland made her pay. They worked the free kick short with Lucy Quinn knocking Megan Connolly's cross to O’Sullivan.
She fed her skipper who got the benefit of a deflection off the unfortunate Eriksson to give the girls in green a half time lead in Gothenburg.
Filippa Angeldal was brought on early in the second half and she brought the best out of Brosnan just after the hour mark as the Man City player drilled a shot on goal only for the Ireland ‘keeper to reach out a hand to touch it onto the crossbar.
Ireland looked to slow the game down when they could and this got the backs up of the home support with their whistles showing the Swedish frustration at what they saw as time wasting by the girls in green.
The home side laid siege to the Ireland goal and were forced to shoot from distance – Angeldel shot wide and then 15 minutes from time Hurtig got in at the back post and pushed a powerful header just wide of the post.
Just like it looked like Ireland were going to pull off the most famous of victories, Asllani broke Irish hearts 11 minutes from the end. Substitute Olivia Schough made an immediate impact as her touch back was taken on by Asllani who fired the ball by Brosnan for the equaliser.
Sweden pushed for the win but couldn’t get the second goal but it was a case of job done for them as they got the point they needed to qualify for next year’s World Cup.
Ireland will be hoping Sweden will not ease off when they face Finland away in their final game.
For Ireland they travel away to Georgia in June before a crucial week at the beginning of September when they face Finland in Tallaght Stadium before travelling to Slovakia for their final match.
Sweden: Lindahl; Ilestedt, Sembrant (Rolfo 56), Eriksson; Glas (Bjorn 77), Bennison (Angeldal 56), Seger (c), Andersson; Hurtig (Schough 77),Asllani, Blackstenius.
Subs not used: Falk, Berglund, Kullberg, Curmark, Rytting Kaneryd, Jakobsson, Janogy.
Booked: Hanna Bennison (12), Magdalena Eriksson (43).
Republic of Ireland: Brosnan; Finn, Fahey, Louise Quinn, Connolly, Mustaki; Lucy Quinn, Littlejohn, O'Sullivan, McCabe (c); Payne (Kiernan 74).
Subs not used: Moloney, M Walsh, Scott, C Walsh, O'Riordan, Grant, Molloy, Ziu, O'Gorman, Carusa, Barrett.
Referee: Iuliana Demetrescu (Romania).
extratime.com Player of the Match: Denise O’Sullivan