Release Date: 19/09/2012
NORTHERN Ireland’s women ended their UEFA Euro 2013 campaign with a 2-0 defeat to a good Belgian side, who narrowly missed out on qualification from Group 3. Late goals from Cayman and Zeler were enough to give Belgium the three points.
In a rain-soaked Windsor Park, Alfie Wylie’s side were more than a match for their European opponents and at times INin the first half, dominated possession. With Julie Nelson and Ashley Hutton dominant as ever in the centre of defence, the Belgians rarely threatened the Northern Ireland goal. On the one occasion when Wiard wriggled her way into the box, Krystal Parker saved easily in the Northern Ireland goal.
Aoife Lennon was having an influence the more the half wore on and could have scored herself as her header drifted narrowly wide from an inswinging McGuinness corner. Lennon had to wait just two minutes for her next chance which saw her 25 yard shot just fly wide of the stranded Belgian keeper Senaeve.
The second half saw Belgium regroup and they seemed to play with more purpose as Northern Ireland looked to tire in the tough conditions. Despite some last ditch defending, the Belgians finally made the breakthrough in the 76th minute with a clever shot on the turn from Cayman as the ball broke to her on the edge of the six yard box.
As Northern Ireland pushed for an equaliser, it was inevitable they would leave space at the back and Belgium doubled their lead on 85 when Player of the Match, Anderlecht’s Tessa Wullaert drove into the box and expertly layed the ball off for Zeler to fire into the roof of the net from 15 yards out.
Northern Ireland tried in vain to get back into the match but in the end had to settle for a 2-0 defeat as Belgium saw out the game.
Final score: Northern Ireland 0 - 2 Belgium
Northern Ireland finish 4th in Group 3 behind Norway, Iceland and Belgium, while Hungary and Bulgaria lie in 5th and 6th respectively.
Northern Ireland: Parker, Hurst, Vance, McGuinness, Nelson, Hutton, Caldwell, Furness, Magill, Milligan, Lennon. Subs: Higgins, Smyth, McShane, Bailie, Holloway, Carson
Belgium: Senaeve, Van Broeck, Jaques, Coutereels, Van de Putte, Biesmans, Demoustier, Wullaert, Zeler, Philtjens, Cayman. Subs: Bellavia, Heiremans, Mermans, Verbruggen, Wiard, Schoenwinkel, Gregoire
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