Match Report: Northern Ireland 4-0 Latvia22 Sep, 2021
Northern Ireland made it eight consecutive wins in a row as they beat Latvia 4-0 in Women’s World Cup qualification on Tuesday evening at Windsor Park.
It made it back to back 4-0 wins for the home side who had defeated Luxembourg on Friday night in Larne.
Northern Ireland started the game on top with Lauren Wade having the first opening when she cut inside off the wing before curling her strike just wide of the target from outside the box inside the first five minutes of the game.
Following an uneventful first 15 minute’s Jackie Burns in the Northern Ireland goal was forced into a very good save to keep out Olga Sevcova who broke free down the left before charging into the box and getting her shot away that the keeper did very well to get down and dealt with it with her legs as she raced heroically off her goal-line.
Wade was causing Latvia all sorts of problems with her movement, and she was inches away from breaking the deadlock as she had a go from long range before the ball sailed just wide of the right-hand post as Latvia were forcing the home side to shoot from distance as Kenny Shiels was growing frustrated on the touchline.
Shiels thought his side were ahead via Sarah McFadden who got on the end of a perfect cross from Kirsty McGuinness before her header rattled the crossbar and bounced away and then minutes later Furness came close as she took the ball down on her chest before turning and getting a strike away on goal, but it sailed off target and wide.
Burns was then called into action once more as the game approached half-time when Viktorija Zaičikova tried her luck from distance, but the keeper was down well to react and hold onto the ball before a Latvian attacker could turn home the rebound.
Northern Ireland had the final opening of the first half when Furness played a superb through ball for Wade who was one on one with the keeper, but the Glentoran winger dragged her effort across the face of goal and wide of the target.
The home side started the second half on top just like they finished the first with McGuinness playing an excellent ball into the box for Callaghan, but she failed to make a clean connection with the ball as it dropped wide of the target.
However, three minutes into the half the deadlock was broken via Louise McDaniel, who was making her first senior start as the ball fell for her after tidy work from Callaghan and she thumped her effort high into the net to also give Northern Ireland’s senior women’s their first-ever goal at Windsor Park.
Wade was really hunting for her goal, and she came close once again as she was twisting and turning down the wing before forcing a fine low save from Enija Vaivode who got down quickly to avert the danger.
Shiels was then to make a change as Beattie was replaced by Rebecca McKenna who made a move to Lewes from Linfield over the summer before the home side added their second when McGuinness was played in by Callaghan with a perfectly weighted through ball and McGuinness planted her effort across goal and into the bottom corner of the net on her 50th cap.
McDaniel was to have the ball in the net once again but her celebrations didn’t last long as she was denied a second by the offside flag.
It was all one way traffic with Furness coming close to a third as she got into the box to meet another cross but she sent her header over the bar from close range with 68 minutes on the clock.
Shiels then made another change as Caragh Hamilton made her first appearance on the international stage after almost a year out due an ACL injury as she replaced Wade.
In the 78th minute the result was put beyond doubt when Demi Vance swung in a cross for Callaghan who touched her effort beyond the keeper to make it 3-0 and seal all three points.
Two minutes later the home side won a penalty their second in successive games when Callaghan saw her shot hit the arm of Miksone and referee Esther Staubli pointed to the spot.
Furness who hit the post on Friday against Luxembourg made no mistake this time when she stepped up and swept the ball home with confidence.
Shiels wanted to give every player a run out over the two games as he made a triple change with less than then minutes to go when Danielle Maxwell, Ciara Watling and Kelsie Burrows came on for Furness, McGuinness and Laura Rafferty.
Callaghan forced another good save from Vaivode in injury time, but Northern Ireland made it two wins from two to get off to the perfect start in their search to reach a first-ever Women’s World Cup.
As Sweet Caroline blasted out over the PA system at the end it was another historic night for Northern Irish Women’s football.
Northern Ireland: Burns, Rafferty (Burrows 83), McFadden, Vance, McDaniel, McCarron, Furness (Waitling 83), Callaghan, Wade (Milligan 70 mins), Beattie (McKenna 60), K McGuiness (Maxwell 83).
Subs not used: Flaherty, Harvey-Clifford, Nelson, Holloway, C McGuinness, Caldwell, Wilson.
Latvia: Vaivode, Voitane (Brahmane 90), Gergeleziu, Rocane, Tumane (Grananca 90), Miksone, Lubina (Girzda 90), Zaicikova, Fedotova (Baliceva, 52), Sevcova, Senberga (Valaka 63).
Subs not used: Sklemenova, Sinutkina, Lodzina, Vitmore, Sondore, Freidenfelde, Buklovska.