Ireland’s excellent start to their FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign continued this afternoon when Sue Ronan’s side beat Slovenia 3-0 in the Ob Jezeru Stadium in Velenje.
The Irish got off to the best possible start when striker Fiona O’Sullivan turned home an Áine O’Gorman cross after 12 minutes to open the scoring.
O’Sullivan then turned provider in the 42nd minute to set up O’Gorman for the second goal and then Denise O’Sullivan made it 3-0 a minute after half-time following an assist by Julie Ann Russell.
Having seen her side pick up seven points from their opening three games, manager Ronan was absolutely delighted afterwards.
“It’s a great start and this was easily the best performance of the campaign so far, if not the whole year," said Ronan. "We had been really disappointed with the way we played in the last game against Croatia and we spoke a lot about it during the week. One of the things we wanted to do was start well and win the first half and we certainly managed to do to that in some style.
“Slovenia were a good side. They were strong and physical and technically good but we never let them settle from the start and we looked fit and strong especially towards the end when they really came at us.
“All the players were excellent today and I was particularly pleased with the performances of Aine O’Gorman, Julie Ann Russell and Denise O’Sullivan who really caused the Slovenians a lot of problems all through the match. We also gave Karen Duggan her competitive debut at left-back and she did a great job."
The only disappointing note for the Irish was the three yellow cards picked by defenders Louise Quinn and Yvonne Tracy plus substitute Stephanie Roche in the second half.
The win means Ireland now have seven points from their opening three games and have finished 2013 with just one defeat from eight games.
Their next game in the group will be at home to European champions Germany on 5 April. The Germans, who had knocked in 22 goals in their first two games against Russia and Slovenia, could only manage four second half goals in a 4-0 win over Croatia in Frankfurt this evening.
Germany lead Group 1 by two points from Ireland and Ronan will now start focusing on the World No.2 ranked side.
“The most important thing was to get off to a good start and we will now go into that game against Germany in April unbeaten and with seven points from a possible nine. That sets it up nicely,” she said.
Slovenia: Sonja Cevnik (GK); Kaja Jerina, Lucija Grad, Anisa Rola, Andreja Nik, Mateja Zver, Manja Benak, 4Anja Milenkovic (C), Kaja Eržen (Kristina Erman 63), Urška Žganec, Tjaša Tibaut. Unsued subs: Katarina Puš (GK), Ines Špelic, Kristina Erman, Manja Rogan, Martina Potrc, Katja Nežmah, Barbara Kralj.
Republic of Ireland: Emma Byrne; Seana Cooke, Louise Quinn, Yvonne Tracy, Karen Duggan; Dora Gorman, Shannon Smyth; Denise O’Sullivan (Ruesha Littlejohn 79); Aine O’Gorman (Meabh De Burca 89), Fiona O’Sullivan (Stephanie Roche 89), Julie Ann Russell.
Unsued subs: Grace Maloney (GK), Diane Caldwell, Sophie Perry, Rachel Graham.
Referee: Lilach Asulin (Israel).