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Wylie's side end home campaign with defeat to classy Italians

By Graham Luney

Published 17/09/2016

High hopes: Julie Nelson challenges Laura Giuliani
High hopes: Julie Nelson challenges Laura Giuliani

Northern Ireland Women's final home Euro 2017 qualifier ended in a 3-0 defeat by Italy at Mourneview Park.

Cristiana Girelli struck twice, breaking the deadlock just before half-time and adding a second in injury time at the end, with Melania Gabbiadini also on target with a headed goal.

Sarah McFadden won her 50th cap and led out the home team in place of suspended captain Marissa Callaghan.

Northern Ireland play their final qualifier in Switzerland on Tuesday and appear destined to finish in fourth place.

Alfie Wylie's side would need to beat the Swiss, with other results going their way, to climb the table.

Italy broke the deadlock when a cross from the left found Girelli in the box who tapped home from six yards past keeper Emma Higgins. Northern Ireland failed to deal with another cross with 14 minutes remaining and Gabbiadini headed the ball home.

The visitors would then make it three right on the referee's full time whistle as Girelli grabbed her second of the night.

Northern Ireland: Higgins, Newborough, Foy, McFadden, Nelson, Hutton, Sherwood, Rafferty, Montgomery, Brennan, McGuinness. Subs: Poots, Hyndman, Lindsay, McMaster, McCarron, Milligan, McKay.

• With the women's game on the rise, Northern Ireland will warm up for next summer's UEFA Under-19 Women's Championship by hosting a mini-tournament across four venues next month.

The Women's International Cup will feature three of the powerhouses of the women's game - USA, England and France - alongside Northern Ireland. The round-robin games will be staged at Ballymena Showgrounds, Mourneview Park in Lurgan, Portadown's Shamrock Park and at Windsor Park.

Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland Under-17 boys' side face Spain, Slovakia and San Marino in their UEFA Euro qualifiers which begin on Monday.

Belfast Telegraph

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