Two goals from Katie McCabe and a goal from Amy O’Connor capped off a dominant 3-1 victory for the Republic of Ireland U-19 women's team against Greece in the UEFA Championships first qualifying round Group Two at Tallaght Stadium on Monday.
The Irish had a number of chances early in the game, most notably in the fifth minute when midfielder Shauna Newman came close with a shot from just outside the box but her effort was just over the bar.
Clare Shine had a brilliant chance to score in the 16th minute but her touch was too heavy and the Greek keeper Anthi Papakonstantinou rushed out to meet her and dived on the ball.
The Irish kept pushing for chances and it finally paid off when McCabe calmly controlled a ball over-the-top and rounded the keeper to slot the ball in the back of the net and give Ireland took the lead.
Ireland dominated the end of the first half and with the half coming to a close, McCabe delivered a superb curling shot which was stunningly saved by Papakonstantinou to palm the ball onto the post.
The ball then rebounded to Shine who was brought down in the box by a Greek to which a penalty was awarded. McCabe stepped up to take the penalty and sent the keeper the wrong way, smashing the ball home and give Ireland a 2-0 lead.
In the last minute of first half injury time, Greek midfielder Georgia Sakellari was played through but her powerful shot was straight at the Irish keeper Jillian Maloney.
The Greeks came out in the second half looking a lot hungrier for a goal. Greek forward Ionna Trifinopoulou played a big part in making the Greeks look stronger after the break.
Papakonstantinou made a brilliant save to deny Ireland a third early in the second half when she parried a close-range McCabe header after a Shauna Newman a free kick. The Greek keeper was called into action again soon after, when a great touch from Shine was met with a brilliant turn and shot, with a full length required to send it out for a corner.
The Irish went 3-0 up in the 66th minute, when Shine delivered a lovely though-ball to Amy O’Connor who smashed the ball into the Greek net.
Greece pulled one back three minutes later when substitute Christina Papadopoulou slotted the ball home after a nice pass from Ionna Trifinopoulou.
The Irish missed a glorious chance to go 4-1 up when a ball played straight across the face of goal was met by Amy O’Connor who could only hit it just wide from 12 yards.
Both sides traded chances and possession throughout the last 20 minutes with no major notably chances occurring.
With a solid performance in defence from Ciara O’Connell, and a tantalising display up front from McCabe, the Irish never looked like losing from the start and in the end ran out eventual 3-1 winners.
They meet Denmark in the final group game at Tolka Park on Thursday with Greece facing Kazakhstan at Richmond Park. Both games kick-off at 5.00pm.
Republic of Ireland: Jillian Maloney, Lauren Dwyer, Ciara Rossiter (Emily Cahill 70), Ciara O’Connell, Chloe Mustaki (C), Shauna Newman, Amy O’Connor, Clare Shine, Aisling Frawley (Gemma McGuinness 81), Katie McCabe, Shannon Carson (Ciara McNamara 87)
Greece: Anthi Papakonstantinou, Ioanna Chamalidou, Despoina Giannou, Triantafyllia Kyriazi, Georgia Sakellari(Christina Papadopoulou 65), Maria-Nikoleta Tragou, Konstantina Pakou, Tatiana Georgiou (Evangelia Katsarou 75), Ioanna Trifinopoulou, Eleni Markou (Stamatia Pythoula 83), Dimitra Riga