Ireland's matchwinner Denise O’Sullivan sets sights on Russia
Glasgow City playmaker ensured homeside’s dominance paid off against Croatia
The Republic’s Denise O’Sullivan scores a last-minute goal to win the game. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
The Republic of Ireland’s match winner from Saturday’s Women’s World Cup qualifier against Croatia, Denise O’Sullivan, insists anything other victory would have been an injustice on the Girls in Green
Sue Ronan’s charges endured delaying tactics from Croatia at Tallaght Stadium until O’Sullivan struck her eight international goal in the 93rd minute.
The Glasgow City playmaker made Ireland’s dominance count when she stretched to poke the ball over the line after Fiona O’Sullivan nodded back across the six-yard box into her path.
Victory leaves Ireland heading to Moscow for Thursday’s next qualifier aware that three points would move them to within two points of Russia, who currently occupy second place and, potentially, a play-off spot for next year’s World Cup in Canada.
“Croatia set out to frustrate us from the first half by time-wasting and I was starting to lose my composure,” said Cork native O’Sullivan.
“I just couldn’t understand why they tried to play for a draw – that’s something we’d never try to do in any game. But I was always confident we’d score. We didn’t panic, kept our shape and the chance finally came at the end.
“We won’t fear Russia on Thursday because there’s everything to play for in the group now. They beat us at home last month but that was an off-night. Even Spain get those, as we all saw against Holland on Friday.”
A relieved Ronan said afterwards: “Croatia wanted a dogfight and the referee didn’t help by being lenient on their time-wasting. We were much the better side over the game and it would have been a major disappointment not to have got the win our performance deserved.”
REP OF IRELAND: Byrne (Arsenal); O’Gorman (Peamount Utd), Quinn (Eskilstuna United), Fahey (Arsenal), Duggan (Peamount Utd); Gorman (Peamount Utd), Roche (Peamount Utd); Killeen (Raheny Utd), D O’Sullivan (Glasgow City), Russell (Peamount Utd); F O’Sullivan (SC Frieburg). Subs: Littlejohn (Sandviken) for Killeen (66 mins), Caldwell (Avaldsnes) for Gorman (78 mins), Grant (Raheny Utd) for F O’Sullivan (90+4).
CROATIA: Vuk; Hercigonja-Moulton, Balog, Nevrkla, Zigic; Petrovic (Kolar 46 mins), Gaiser; Lojna (Stvoric 90 mins), Baban, Salek (Sundov 75 mins); Joscak. Referee: Ms K Radzik-Johan (Poland)