Euro 2021 qualifying: Diane Caldwell goal helps the Republic of Ireland past Greece

Diane Caldwell
Diane Caldwell netted her second international goal on her 75th cap

The Republic of Ireland maintained their unbeaten run in Women's Euro 2021 qualifying with a 1-0 win over Greece.

Diane Caldwell netted the only goal of the game on the stroke of half-time with a close-range finish in Tallaght.

The hosts dominated proceedings but failed to find a second goal despite having 16 attempts in Dublin.

Vera Pauw's side are second in Group I after four games, with three wins and a draw, and are two points behind unbeaten Germany.

Backed by a vocal crowd, which was 4,511 strong, the Republic had a flurry of chances in the opening stages.

Ruesha Littlejohn fired over the top before Denise O'Sullivan forced an excellent save from Anthi Papakonstantinou after a close-range effort.

Ruesha Littlejohn
Ruesha Littlejohn put in a Player of the Match match performance in Dublin

Greece nearly opened the scoring after Republic goalkeeper Marie Hourihan failed to grasp a corner but returning left back Aine O'Gorman was on hand to clear the danger away.

However any tension around Tallaght Stadium was lifted when defender Caldwell broke the deadlock with a rare goal on her 75th appearance.

Katie McCabe's free-kick was headed across goal by Louise Quinn and the unmarked Caldwell was on hand to touch home her second international goal.

The Republic remained on top after the restart as Heather Payne headed wide from Rianna Jarrett's cross and Littlejohn squandered two efforts from close range as the hosts pushed for a second goal.

Payne pulled up injured on 63 minutes, which will be a concern ahead of Wednesday's qualifier in Montenegro, before Despoina Chatzinikolaou and Veatriki Sarri had Greece's best chances of the game in quick succession but both efforts failed to trouble Hourihan.

Littlejohn, who was Player of the Match, shaved the top of the crossbar from the edge of the area and Amber Barrett was flagged offside after beating Papakonstantinou as the Republic remained on top in the closing stages.

There was a nervy ending for the home crowd in five minutes of injury time as the Republic sat back, but the full-time whistle was greeted by a noise which recognised Pauw's team have a realistic chance of reaching the Euro 2021 finals in England.

Katie McCabe and Vera Pauw
Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe celebrates with manager Vera Pauw

With Germany favourites to top the Group and secure an automatic spot at the finals, the Republic will be optimistic of booking their spot as one of the three best runners up after opening up a six-point lead over third-placed Greece.

"Greece are very difficult to beat and I wouldn't be surprised if they take points off Ukraine, but we have three points and and that what we need," Pauw told RTE after the game.

"The goal is what we trained for and we knew their keeper would stay on her line.

"The way Katie can put a ball in is amazing and it was exactly how we prepared for it.

"It was a joy to score a goal like that and such a reward for all the work and concentration we put in.

"We will continue to grow as a team and we will do everything better."

Top Stories