Northern Ireland and Wales will be battling it out to qualify for the 2022 Uefa Women’s Euro Championship play-offs; the tournament was originally meant to take place in 2021, but has been postponed a year so that it doesn’t clash with the postponed men’s tournament. Both sides will be looking to grasp that second qualifying position in Group C, as the talented Norway side have already secured first place with six wins from six. Wales will have to better Northern Ireland’s result tonight to qualify for the play-off. Northern Ireland have a better head-to-head record over Wales, thanks to the two away goals they scored in a 2-2 draw last year and therefore if they match Wales’ result tonight they will finish second and qualify for the play-off.
Cliftonville Ladies player-coach Marissa Callaghan captains the side in this crucial match. Northern Ireland make two changes from their crucial 3-2 victory over Belarus on friday; Jackie Burns replaces Becky Flaherty in between the sticks and midfielder Sarah McFadden comes into the side for defender Demi Vance. Kirsty McGuiness will be looking for her second goal in as many games after netting just two minutes into the game on Friday.
The Faroe Island’s line up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Olga Kristina Hansen leading the line by herself and Heidi Sevdal is the only player to miss out from their 4-0 loss to Wales in October.
Team News for Wales!
Wales line-up in a 4-4-2 formation ahead of their must-win game and defender Sophie Ingle captains the side. Wales have made one change from their one goal defeat to Norway last time out; Ffion Morgan comes in for Kayleigh Green at the top of the pitch.
Belarus line-up in a 4-3-3 formation and will be hoping they can reverse the 1-0 defeat to Wales last time out; Anastasia Shcherbachenia captains the side from defence and Kseniya Kubichnaya leads the line for Belarus.
In Belfast: 4′ Goal!
What a nightmare for Northern Ireland! Kára Djurhuus tries to shoot for Faroe Islands and the ball deflects into the path of Jensa Kannuberg Tórolvsdóttir, who slots home to put Northern Ireland’s qualification at risk. That was terrrible defending!
What a response from Northern Ireland! The home side take a corner and the ball bounced around in the box, before Rachel Furness launched herself at the ball and headed home to equalise!
Lauren Wade shows a great turn of pace to get in behind the Faroese full-back and enters the box, but the defender does well to get back in and put the ball out for a corner
In Newport: 1′ Kick-Off!
Wales get the game underway after a strange moment; Wales took the knee in the stand against racism, but Belarus did not. Wales will qualify if they can win this match, as Northern Ireland are currently drawing.
In Belfast: 19′ Northern Ireland dominance!
Northern Ireland are controlling the majority of possession and that will please their manager, but they will be hoping to push closer to the Faroe Island’s box, as their possession has been mostly around the halfway line
22′ Huge Chance!
How has Emily Wilson missed that? The ball is headered back across the box perfectly into the path of Wilson, but she can’t quite connect with her finish and the ball trickles into the keepers’ hands. What a glorious chance that was.
In Newport: 11′ Chance!
Wales take a shot from the edge-of-the-box, but the Belarus keeper is equal to the shot and tips it round-the-post.
In Belfast: 26′ Goal!!!
What a turnaround for Northern Ireland! Striker McGuinness is picked out on the edge of the box by Wade and cuts on to her right foot, before curling the ball into the far corner; what a strike! Northern Ireland will be heading to the play-off if the score stays like this!
In Newport: Goal!!!
Fishlock does well to get in behind down the right wing and cuts the ball back from the byline to Natasha Harding; the striker fluffed her first shot, but was able to finish with a low-shot into the far corner at the second attempt; that is exactly the start Wales needed.
Ingle tries a speculative effort from 25 yards out, which she catches cleanly but the shot is straight at the keeper, who catches it easily.
Karina Olkhovik is replaced by Tatyana Krasnova on the left-hand side and it seems to be a tactical change, rather than an injury.
In Belfast: 41′ Northern Ireland dominance!
Much to Wales’ dismay, Northern Ireland are controlling the game with ease and are putting extreme pressure on the Faroe Islands every time they get the ball.
In Newport: 31′ Woodwork!
Fishlock does brilliantly to set up Morgan and the striker looks set to score, but her shot rattles against the post and the home side waste a chance to double their lead.
Half Time In Belfast!
As it stands Northern Ireland are going through! After conceding very early on, the home side recovered brilliantly with an instant reply from Furness and a brilliant strike from outside-of-the-box, by McGuinness to put her country ahead. Northern Ireland will be hoping for an early second half goal to calm the nerves.
34′ Goal In Newport!
What a finish! Rachel Rowe picked the ball up just inside the box, but down the right-hand size and the forward curled the ball beautifully into the top corner from a near-impossible angle. Wales are doing all they can here!
In Belfast: 47′ Chance!
McGuiness really should have scored! The keeper made a great save from her shot, but the rebound was put wide when it should have gone in!
What a finish!! Chloe McCarron picks the ball up around 25 yards out and smashes an absolute beauty into the roof of the net. Northern Ireland are well and truly in the driving seat for qualification!
Caitlin McGuinness comes on for Emily Wilson to make history by joining her sister Kirsty McGuinness on the pitch and Samantha Kelly replaces Ashley Hutton.
Drama in Newport: 58′ Woodwork!
Wales survive a scare! Belarus strike a free-kick from just outside the box and the ball rattles the crossbar.
In Belfast: 71′ Substitutions:
The Faroe Islands make two changes with Julia Naomi Mortensen and Hansen replaced by Mona Rasmusdóttir and Lea Símunardóttir Lisberg, as the away side look to get back in the game.
77′ Goal in Belfast!
Caitlin McGuinness joins her sister on the scoresheet! The ball deflects into her path perfectly in the box and the forward powers the ball into the bottom corner, to surely secure Northern Ireland’s place in the play-offs!
In Newport: 70′ Substitution!
Wales make a change as they look to cement their control in this game; Charlie Estcourt is replaced by Lily Woodham.
72′ Penalty! Goal!
Wales well and truly finish this game off! Harding is fouled in the box and Wales are awarded a penalty; Fishlock makes no mistake, smashing it into the bottom corner. Wales are unlikely to squeeze into second, but they have played brilliantly tonight.
In Belfast: 83′ Substitution!
Toni-Leigh Finnegan and Danielle Maxwell replace the brilliant Wade and Callaghan, as Northern Ireland look to see this game out.
Northern Ireland are enjoying themselves here! The ball goes over everyone from the corner, but Furness is there at the back post and she pokes the ball back towards goal and it ends up in the net thanks to a deflection; will that go down as her second of the night or an own-goal? Northern Ireland have been brilliant and are well and truly on there way to the play-offs!
In Newport: 79′ Substitution!
Wales make their second change, as the energetic Morgan is replaced by Georgia Walters in attack.
Full Time in Belfast!
Northern Ireland have progressed to the play-off’s in some style! They dominated the game thoroughly after the fourth minute goal they conceded. The home side then scored five unanswered goals to take them to victory. Northern Ireland finish on the same points as Wales and inferior goal difference, but they go through to the play-off matches due to their superior head-to-head against Wales. Goals from Furness, McCarron, a Langgard own-goal, Kirsty McGuiness and Caitlin McGuiness provided a brilliant night for Northern Ireland; they will be euphoric!
In Newport: 88′ Flurry of substitutions!
Wales make a treble substitution, as goalscorers Harding, Rowe and Fishlock are replaced by Gemma Evans, Green and striker Nadia Lawrence. Belarus also make a couple of changes, as Anastasiya Kharlanova replaces Anastasiya Schcherbachenya and Anna Sas replaces Anastasia Linnik.
Full Time in Newport!
Wales produce a brilliant, dominant 3-0 victory over Belarus, but unfortunately it is not enough to qualify for a play-off spot. Wales will be extremely frustrated that they were not able to qualify, but they couldn’t have done anymore tonight. Goals from Rowe, Harding and Fishlock provided the victory for the home side and the defence will be pleased with the clean sheet. Although the victory tonight may seem in vain for Wales, they can build on performances like this going into the future.