Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland women footballers sink Faroe Islands to finish on real high

Northern Ireland 4-0 Faroe Islands

By Laurie James

Northern Ireland’s women had to wait an entire campaign to score in the World Cup qualifiers and last night three goals came at once.

A brace for Rachel Furness and a Julie Nelson free-kick meant Northern Ireland finished an otherwise flat campaign on a high.

Praising his tireless side, manager Alfie Wylie said: "Anyone can see we try to score, we try to play football and we have tremendous belief and character.

"We stuck at it, and they demonstrated what playing for Northern Ireland means to them. They make great sacrifices.

"They give up time from work and school, are not paid anything and really represent the true meaning of amateur."

Northern Ireland's first came after Faroes captain Malena Josephsen clipped Simone Magill just on the inside of the area on 21 minutes. Furness dispatched the spot-kick with precision.

The Faroes knocked themselves back into shape. Identifying the remarkable Aimee Mackin as a key opponent, they drove to close her down, while striker Rannva Sevdal put in a shift up front.

However, Nelson’s direct free-kick in the 52nd minute and Furness’ second in injury time sealed the points. Sevdal was poorly supported up front for the Faroes, while Mackin proved to be a real danger.

She showed how Northern Ireland could cope comfortably with the absence of Kirsty McGuinness, who has had her commitment questioned, and subsequently was dropped from the squad by Wylie.

Indeed, he could ask for little more from a partnership than Mackin and Furness offer.

Wylie added: "They're superb players. Aimee could have been with the Under-19s this year and now she's with the big girls.

"We could have won by six or seven, but we have to look at the positives — scoring and keeping a clean sheet, totalling three clean sheets in the campaign."

NORTHERN IRELAND: Higgins, Vance, Shepherd, Nelson, Hutton, Hurst, Mackin, (Armour, 88), Caldwell (Connolly, 90+2), Callaghan (Timoney, 76), Magill, Furness.

Subs not used: McKenna, Corry, Rafferty, McDowell.

FAROE ISLANDS: Wardrum, O Danielsen, F Danielsen, A Sevdal, Josephsen, R Andreasen, H Sevdal, Kristiansen (Jacobsen, 86), Klakstein (Magnussen, 80), Brimnes, (Isaksen, 86), L Petersen.

Subs not used: Davidsen, V Andreasen, S Petersen, Biskopsto.

Referee: Asulin Liliach (Israel)

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