Release Date: 21/09/2013
Author: Roy Cathcart
NORTHERN Ireland lost their opening UEFA Women's Under 19 Tournament game to group favourites Switzerland in the Arcadija Stadium in Riga, Latvia, tonight, going down by three goals to one in a match where they were occasionally outplayed but never outfought.
The Swiss play an attractive, controlled game, and dominated from the start, taking the lead halfway through the first half when Muller latched onto a through pass to beat Jackie Burns with a crisp shot.
Northern Ireland came close on a couple of occasions, most notably when Moya Feehan broke clear and shot just wide.
The Northern Ireland defence had to work hard throughout the half to cope with the constant Swiss threats, usually down the left flank, and were happy to reach the break without conceding again.
Two minutes after the resumption, however, Thurig picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box and scored from distance, and Calo added a third in the sixty-seventh minute with another long-range shot, leaving Northern Ireland with a mountain to climb.
To their credit, Northern Ireland refused to roll over, and took the game to the Swiss.
Four minutes after the third Swiss goal, Rachel Newborough's corner kick was headed powerfully towards goal by Northern Ireland's best player, Amy McGivern, and Moya Feehan snapped up a rebound to beat the tall Swiss 'keeper from close range.
Northern Ireland worked hard in the final stages of the game to reduce the deficit, and it was the Swiss who were relieved when the final whistle was blown.
Manager Alfie Wylie was disappointed but not despondent at the result: "Switzerland were always going to be favourites to win the match, but I was pleased by the way my young team played out the ninety minutes. They showed great character to make up for their lack of experience at this level.
"Of course they will have to work equally hard against second seeds Ukraine in their next match, but I think we learned a lot tonight."
Northern Ireland: Burns, Connor, Foy, McShane, McDade, McMullan, McGivern, Feehan, Rafferty, Dane, Dunne subs Adams (not used), Sheridan (replaced Connor 67), Moorehead (not used), Newborough (replaced Dane 36), Holloway (not used), Brennan (replaced McMullan 88), Rees (not used)
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