Northern Ireland’s Women’s Under-19 team lost out by three goals to nil against Italy in a Euro qualifier this afternoon. However, the final scoreline did not reflect the game. Northern Ireland matched the Italians for long spells and created some good chances. Italy, however, were more clinical in front of goal.
UEFA Women’s European Under-19 Championship 2023-24
Qualifying First Round (League A)
Italy WU19s 3 Northern Ireland WU19s 0
Italy: Pellegrino Cimo (5’, 77’), Donolato (90’+4)
Stade Jean Verbeke, Montauban
28 October 2023
This was Northern Ireland’s second of three matches in League A in the first round of qualifiers for the UEFA WU19 Euros 2024. The Group A1 mini tournament is being staged in the Occitanie region in southern France. WU19s boss Gail Redmond made two changes to the team that started the first game against France, which Northern Ireland lost 4-0. She brought in Niamh O’Donnell and Mikayla Wildgoose, with Sofie Keenan and Aoibhe O’Neill dropping to the bench. Italy defeated Hungary 2-1 in their first game.
How it happened
Northern Ireland started strongly and created three chances before Italy grabbed the lead. Sarah Tweedie, Kascie Weir and Keri Halliday all forced saves out of Italian keeper Emma Mustafic.
Italy’s keeper comfortably held a Tweedie shot. Then Orleigha McGuinness played an excellent ball to send Weir clear, but again the keeper was able to gather the ball in. However, a shot from Halliday, who was fed by Weir, had Mustafi stretching to tip the ball over the bar.
In the fifth minute Italy defender Azzurra Gallo found midfielder Giada Pellegrino Cimo with a long ball over the top and the midfielder raced through to tuck the ball past Northern Ireland keeper Erin McAllister.
Italy striker Manuela Sciabica shot wide before McAllister produced an excellent save to keep out a blaster from right back Martina Viesti.
Northern Ireland substitute Naomi McLaughlin-Gallagher, who had replaced the injured Abi Sweetlove on the half-hour mark, delivered a corner which Faye Loughran headed inches wide of the target.
Both Italian attacker Ginevra Moretti and left back Elena Pizzuti wasted opportunities before midfielder Eva Schatzer forced a save from McAllister on the stroke of half-time.
Half-time: Italy WU19s 1 Northern Ireland WU19s 0
After the restart Italy continued to look dangerous with their quick passing and movement. Pizzuti steered a shot wide before Weir fired a shot past the post down the other end.
Northern Ireland continued to battle hard - and play some neat football. In the 67th minute McLaughlin-Gallagher let fly from outside the area but the Italian keeper was equal to her effort.
McAllister had to be on her toes again to thwart Italy substitute Greta Bellagente, while Pellegrino Cimo wasted a decent chance.
The Northern Ireland keeper then saved from Schatzer before Pellegrino Cimo guided the ball home from close range for her second and Italy’s second goal of the game on 77 minutes.
In the closing stages Northern Ireland pushed forward once again. McLaughlin got on the end of a Halliday corner, however Mustafic pushed her header around the post.
McAllister denied Schatzer before Italy put the icing on the cake four minutes into added time. Substitute Valentina Donolato scored their third with a sweet curler.
Northern Ireland will be back at Stade Jean Verbeke on Tuesday (31 October) for their final Group A1 match against Hungary. That game starts at 4pm UK time.
Full-time: Italy WU19s 3 Northern Ireland WU19s 0
Italy WU19s: Emma Mustafic, Martina Viesti, Elena Pizzuti, Azzurra Gallo, Nadine Sorelli (captain), Erin Cesarini, Eva Schatzer, Monica Renzotti, Manuela Sciabica, Giada Pellegrino Cimo, Ginevra Moretti.
Substitutes: Viola Bartalini (GK), Giada Catena, Veronica Bernardi, Greta Bellagente, Paola Zanini, Valentina Donolato, Sara Zappettini, Leda Gemmi, Carola Zannini.
Northern Ireland WU19s: Erin McAllister, Orleigha McGuinness, Niamh O’Donnell,Faye Loughran, Mikayla Wildgoose, Sarah Tweedie (captain), Aimee Kerr, Abi Sweetlove, Rachel McIntyre, Kascie Weir, Keri Halliday.
Substitutes: (used) Naomi McLaughlin-Gallagher, Sophie Gargan, Rhyleigh Marks, Sofie Keenan, Tara Reilly; (unused) Kate Smith (GK), Maeve McConaghy, Aoibhe O’Neill, Megan Neill.