Republic of Ireland 0-2 England: Lionesses return to winning ways after contentious penalty, but Wiegman’s side still far from their best

The Lionesses comfortably saw off the Republic of Ireland in front of 32,742 fans at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Tuesday, recording the first win of their EURO2025 qualifying campaign after settling for an underwhelming 1-1 draw with Sweden last week.

Sarina Wiegman’s side should have led by three goals at the break – Lauren James opened the scoring before Alex Greenwood converted from the penalty spot, although the Manchester City defender struck the woodwork with her second attempt from twelve yards out.

A tamer second half failed to present the same number of opportunities, though a two-goal win is enough to see the Lionesses move into the top half of Group A3 with a third of the matches played. The Girls in Green remain fourth, having failed to secure a point thus far.

As it happened

With a desperate need for points after Friday’s stalemate in London, the Lionesses wasted no time in roaring into an early lead in Dublin. Courtney Brosnan had been tested on a number of occasions in the opening minutes, but an unfortunate touch from Anna Patten allowed Lauren James to slam home from close range with 12 minutes on the clock.

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It was a lead that would be doubled just moments later, as referee Lina Lehtovaara awarded the visitors a penalty following a controversial handball from Ruesha Littlejohn inside the box. Alex Greenwood stepped up to strike, dispatching a composed effort down the middle to add to England’s advantage.

They looked destined to grab a third before the half-hour mark, as yet more controversy stemmed from Lehtovaara’s decision to award a penalty – this time as a Louise Quinn deflection saw the ball bounce against her forearm, with the Finnish referee awarding a harsh handball. Thankfully for the Girls in Green, Greenwood wasn’t able to convert this time, rifling her effort against the base of the woodwork.

Chances were perhaps few and far between in the second half, with Sarina Wiegman’s England forcing one of the better chances shortly after the hour mark. A fiercely delivered James cross found Beth Mead at the far post, though Brosnan coped well to deal with the Arsenal forward’s deflected ball back into the box.

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The Girls in Green were presented with a golden opportunity to halve the deficit as the final ten minutes approached at a chilly Lansdowne Road, with Caitlin Hayes inexplicably firing off-target following Louise Quinn’s teasing ball across the face of goal.

Eileen Gleeson’s side were certainly showing their chance-creating capabilities in the dying stages of the match, forcing Hannah Hampton to remain upright and provide a crucial near-post block when an onrushing Hayes headed towards goal – but the goals were still lacking for the hosts.

Hampton, afforded a rare start in lieu of the ever-present Mary Earps, came close to recording a blunder of monumental proportions with five minutes remaining at Aviva Stadium. Taking her time over a goal kick, the Chelsea shotstopper’s eventual clearance was powered straight against Ireland’s Lucy Quinn – and Hampton was remarkably fortunate not to concede.

But as Lehtovaara’s final whistle echoed around the Aviva Stadium, the Lionesses rise to claim 2nd in Group A3 after the first two qualification matches – following France’s win over Sweden earlier on Tuesday. The Republic of Ireland remain rooted to the bottom of the group without a point to their name, and both teams will be looking to improve when they return to action in May.

The lineups

IRL: Brosnan; Mannion, Louise Quinn, Hayes, Patten; Lucy Quinn, O’Sullivan, Littlejohn; McCabe, Carusa, Payne

ENG: Hampton; Carter, Greenwood, Williamson, Bronze; Toone, Walsh, Park; Hemp, Russo, James