Iceland 2 Republic of Ireland 0
The Republic of Ireland’s season, already full to the brim with regret, has ended with a seventh successive defeat.
It is 15 months since Vera Pauw’s side won a game of football. In that period, they have only scored three goals, conceding 12.
The numbers do not lie. Two games in four days at Reykjavík’s Laugardalsvollur stadium has revealed a few more weaknesses, even if there is something to Pauw’s repeated pleas for her players to have regular sessions with men, in order to ready themselves for the intensity of international matches.
At least the general sloppiness that saw them slump to the same opposition last Friday was addressed as Denise O’Sullivan set the tone with some nice early touches.
Katie McCabe showed a similar intent, laughing off several rough challenges from behind. The captain was in the wars all evening, but she refused to waste a touch.
McCabe’s composure in possession was not a feature of the team. Goal chances did present themselves but Amber Barrett made poor contact on 30 minutes after O’Sullivan’s neat ball into the striker’s path.
Claire O’Riordan spurned another opportunity from Louise Quinn’s initial header off a McCabe corner and Megan Connolly’s long range shot forced a save from Iceland’s teenage goalkeeper Cecilía Rán Rúnarsdóttir.
Really though, Berglind Björg Porvaldsdóttir should have put the host's 1-0 up before half-time. Courtney Brosnan made a good block with her feet, only for some inexcusable defending early in the second half allowing Porvaldsdóttir to scramble the ball into the net.
It took until the hour mark before North Carolina Courage duo Diane Caldwell and O'Sullivan began to link up in midfield. The Icelandic players simply chopped them down with referee Kirsty Dowie eventually flashing some yellow cards.
Bayern Munich’s Karólína Lea Vilhjálmsdóttir put the result beyond doubt with a low finish late on.
Such physical exchanges are a precursor to the World Cup 2023 qualifiers against Sweden and Finland. That’s why Pauw choose a summer camp in the North Atlantic Ocean. The worry now is the squad’s lack of confidence will spill into Ireland’s next competitive fixture away to Georgia on September 17th.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Brosnan (unattached); O'Riordan (MSV Duisburg), Quinn (Fiorentina), Caldwell (NC Courage); Finn (Shelbourne), O'Mahony (Cork City) (McLaughlin 79), O'Sullivan (NC Courage), Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), McCabe (Arsenal); Payne (Florida State), Barrett (FC Koln) (Ziu 61). Referee: Kirsty Dowie (England).