Ireland’s women eased their relegation worries at these European Championships with a 3-1 win against Azerbaijan at the Warsteiner Hockey Park in Monchengladbach.
The Irish dominated from the start and Audrey O’Flynn, Lisa Jacob, Nicola Symmons and Cliodhna Sargent all went close with early scoring opportunities.
They took a deserved lead in the 32nd minute; the goal came from their fifth penalty-corner of the game. Michelle Harvey’s drag flick deflected off an opponents foot and into the back of the net.
Michelle Harvey, Ireland, drag flicks to score her side’s first goal.
Gene Muller’s side doubled their lead in the 58th minute, initially Jacob was denied, but the ball broke for Emma Clarke and she finished from close range.
Above: Emma Clarke celebrates her goal with Lisa Jacob
Symmons scored a third six minutes from the end. She started and finished the move of the game to make it 3-0.
Azerbaijan pulled a goal back two minutes from time through a short corner through their captain Kim Yoon Seon.
It ended 3-1 to Ireland and they will hope to secure their elite status with victory in their final game against Italy on Saturday.
Irish players celebrate their first win in the European Championships in Germany.
The late goal, though, leaves Ireland in third place and needing to outdo Azerbaijan’s result on Saturday.
Ireland play Italy at 08.30 whilst at 10.30 Azerbaijan play Belgium. The positions in Pool with all teams having played 2 games is as follows:
1. Belgium 6 pts + 7 GD
2. Azerbaijan 3 pts 0 GD
3. Ireland 3 pts -1 GD
4. Italy 0 pts – 6 GD
Coach Muller after the game said “he was very happy with the team and the overall performance. They defended really well and took the chances created. It is still all to play for and will now focus on Italy who are a totally different side than the one we have just played”
Ireland Starting XI: Emma Gray (GK), Nicola Symmons, Sinead McCarthy, Cliodhna Sargent, Audrey O Flynn, Emma Smyth, Emma Clarke, Shirley McCay, Julia O Halloran, Alex Speers, Aine Connery.
Reserves: Michelle Harvey, Lisa Jacob, Niamh Small, Chloe Watkins, Lizzie Colvin
Azerbaijan Startin X1: Hyesook Shukurzade, Emine Muzaffarova, Yonn Seon Jim, Myungsoon Mammadova, Caijuan Shukurova, Mi Seon Aliyeva, Zhang Suleymanova, Hwa Lee, Zhun Mammadova, Boran Kim, Saadat Nuriyeva.
Reserves: Khatira Aliyeva, Jiayan Huseynova, Yuan Gurbanova, Viktoriya Shabazova (GK), Soyoon Lee,