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Captain McMaster impresses as Northern Ireland lose out to Spain in UEFA Women's U19 opener

Northern Ireland 0-2 Spain

By Gareth Hanna

Northern Ireland U19s lost out 2-0 in their UEFA Women's Under 19 Championship opener against Spain.

A plucky defensive display in the end wasn't enough to take anything from the game but the girls certainly put it up to their opponents, in front of a 4,289 strong crowd at the National Stadium.

Lucia Garcia opened the scoring on 29 minutes as Spain's star performer Laura Maria Perez put a low cross on a plate.

And it was two on 53 minutes, captain Patricia Guijarro thundering home from 30 yards - a goal befitting any occasion.

Spain dominated play but largely thanks to Northern Ireland captain and Cliftonville Ladies star Emma McMaster, who shone in the heart of defence, were restricted.

She wasn't the only impressive performer as Manchester City's Brenna McPartlan was combative in the middle of the park. Going forward, NI's chances to attack were hard-earned and Linfield Ladies duo Megan Bell and Abbie Magee combined to deliver the host team's moment of the match. Bell took on and glided past three Spain players but also had the presence of mind to pick out Magee, whose well-hit shot was tipped behind for a corner.

Third place in the group, of course, could still give NI a chance for a World Cup spot and so goal difference could be important. To that end, tonight's 2-0 scoreline is a positive point for NI - now all eyes turn to the big one against Scotland at Mourneview Park on Friday (7pm).

Have a look at the game as it happened right here:

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