Chile 1 Ireland 0
They came up with a string of big performances at the 2018 World Cup to reach the final but Ireland will now have to produce probably their finest ever tournament result on Wednesday if they are to stay in the 2022 competition. A 1-0 defeat by Chile in Amsterdam leaves them needing to beat Germany, the fifth ranked nation in the world, if they are to progress.
It was 60 minutes of unrelenting frustration for Ireland who managed to earn 10 penalty corners but failed to convert one, while a bullet of a strike from Denise Krimerman Losada 12 minutes from time gave World Cup debutantes Chile, the lowest ranked team in the tournament, the victory.
Even if Ireland were to beat Germany, ranked seven places above them, and avoid falling in to the ninth to 16th place crossovers, they would also need to overturn Chile’s superior goal difference, now better by three – although with reigning champions the Netherlands their opponents in their final pool game, Chile would be expected to ship a fair few goals.
It all started brightly enough for Ireland, the team enjoying the bulk of the possession and forcing four penalty corners in the opening nine minutes. Their best chance came from the third but Zara Malseed failed to get a strong enough stick on the ball when she tried to deflect home Hannah McLoughlin’s strike.
McLoughlin came closer still in the second quarter when her reverse effort went just wide of the right post, with further half-chances falling the way of Sarah Torrans and Zara Malseed.
The longer they kept Ireland scoreless, the more Chile’s confidence grew, and they began creating their own opportunities, Paula Valdivia coming within inches of getting a touch on the ball drilled across goal by Doménica Ananías.
The greatest frustration for Ireland was the failure of their penalty corners, poor execution, a lack of variety and fine Chilean defending combining to see chance after chance going begging.
Come the third quarter, it was Chile who were on top, Ireland’s wayward passing not helping the cause, with Sarah McAuley denying them an almost certain score when she got the faintest of touches on Josefa Salas’s goal-bound effort.
The winning goal came from Chile’s fourth and final penalty corner of the game, Krimerman Losada rocketing the ball past Ayeisha McFerran. And while a desperate Ireland managed to force four more penalty corners in the closing minutes, they couldn’t put any of them away, their hopes not helped by Lena Tice being sinbinned for five of the last seven minutes and Róisín Upton going off injured after a stick to the face left her with a swollen eye.
“We’re bitterly disappointed, we didn’t convert our PCs [penalty corners] and they took their chance, that’s how it goes,” said Tice. “It’s really frustrating, we take pride in our penalty corners, they win and lose games and that’s what happened today. We just have to do better. Everything is about Germany now, if we want to stay in this competition we have to beat them.”
IRELAND: A McFerran, E Curran, R Upton, L Tice, H McLoughlin, M Carey, C Perdue, S Hawkshaw, D Duke, K Mullan (capt), S Torrans. Subs: E Murphy, S McAuley, Z Malseed, N Carroll, C Beggs, K McKee, C Hamill.
CHILE: C Schüler, D Ananías, F Flores, C Caram (capt), F Villagrán, J Khamis, A Solano, D Krimerman Losada, M Maldonado, M Urroz, F Tala. Subs: J Salas, C Palma, F Parra, F Arrieta, N Salvador, S Filipek.
Umpires: W Venter (South Africa), I Makar (Croatia).
Wednesday’s fixture: Ireland v Germany, 3.30 - Live on the RTÉ News Channel and BT Sport 1