Northern Ireland make history with qualification for Women’s Euro 2022

Marissa Callaghan and Nadene Caldwell on target in victory over Ukraine

Northern Ireland players celebrate at the final whistle after sealing qualification for the  Women’s Euro 2022 with  victory over Ukraine in the  playoff, second leg at  Seaview Stadium in Belfast. Photograph: Philip Magowan/Inpho/Presseye

Northern Ireland players celebrate at the final whistle after sealing qualification for the Women’s Euro 2022 with victory over Ukraine in the playoff, second leg at Seaview Stadium in Belfast. Photograph: Philip Magowan/Inpho/Presseye

 

Northern Ireland 2 Ukraine 0

Marissa Callaghan and Nadene Caldwell confirmed Northern Ireland’s qualification for their first major finals as they reached the Women’s Euro 2022 with a 2-0 playoff second leg victory over Ukraine.

Skipper Callaghan’s 55th-minute strike gave her side the lead at Seaview in Belfast before substitute Caldwell added a second deep into stoppage time to make it 4-1 on aggregate.

Kenny Shiels’s side, who won 2-1 in Kovalivka on Friday, started brightly and threatened from a series of early set-pieces which repeatedly put goalkeeper Kateryna Samson under pressure.

However, as Ukraine’s wide midfielders Olha Boychenko and Olha Ovdiychuk started to make an impression, they were served with a reminder that their job was far from done.

Marissa Callaghan scores Northern Ireland’s first goal during the Women’s Euro 2022 playoff, second leg against Ukraine at Seaview Stadium in Belfast. Photograph: Philip Magowan/Inpho/Presseye
Marissa Callaghan scores Northern Ireland’s first goal during the Women’s Euro 2022 playoff, second leg against Ukraine at Seaview Stadium in Belfast. Photograph: Philip Magowan/Inpho/Presseye

Everton striker Simone Magill, who scored Northern Ireland’s winner in the first leg, tested Samson from a tight angle 12 minutes before the break, but goalkeeper Jackie Burns was relieved to see Daryna Apanaschenko drag her shot wide in first-half added time.

In an untidy start to the second half, the home side dominated without creating genuine chances and when they finally did take the lead on the night it was a result of persistence rather than quality.

Callaghan climbed to help on Julie Nelson’s deep free-kick and as defender Darya Kravets hesitated, she chased down the loose ball and stabbed it past Samson.

The visitors unravelled as time ran down as midfielder Natiya Pantsulaya was sent off for a cynical foul on Sarah McFadden, before Caldwell made sure in the sixth minute of added time.

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