USA 5-0 Ireland
The Republic of Ireland Women’s national team lost their opening game of 2016 when they went down 5-0 to the world champions and world number one ranked side USA at the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego in front of a crowd of 23,309.
Four of the goals came in the first half with FIFA World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd claiming a hat-trick inside the first 28 minutes, while Alex Morgan, making her 100th appearance for the USA, got the fourth on the stroke of half-time.
Although the Irish played much better in the second half and created several goalscoring opportunities it was the USA who got the half’s only goal when debutant Mallory Pugh headed home from close range seven minutes from time.
Ireland manager Sue Ronan handed a senior debut to 18-year-old Megan Connolly when she introduced her as a 65th-minute substitute. And the Cork girl provided the assist for the visitors’ best chance of the game when her corner found Fiona O’Sullivan whose powerful header was saved by Hope Solo, who had earlier conceded the corner when tipping over a dangerous long throw from Megan Campbell.
The lack of football for the Irish squad in recent months due to close seasons and postponements certainly showed in the opening half-hour as basic errors were ruthlessly punished by the Americans who had been in camp since 5 January preparing for this game and next month’s Olympic qualifying tournament.
The opening goal came in the sixth minute from a throw-in which caught the Irish defence unaware and when Morgan pulled the ball back across the face of goal, Lloyd had a simple tap in from close range.
Fifteen minutes later Lloyd showed tremendous bravery to head home the rebound from an Emma Byrne save even though she took a bang in the head from Louise Quinn in the process.
An under-hit back pass from Diane Caldwell allowed Lloyd to complete her hat-trick as she tucked the ball past the advancing Byrne, while there also a lot of good fortune for Morgan’s goal as a header from Lloyd struck a post and rebounded across the face of goal leaving Amercia’s newest centurion an easy tap in.[…]