Scotland and Wales were just one win away from booking their seats on the plane to Australia, for next summer’s World Cup, when late goals left the home nations crushed.
Wales took the lead in their game against Switzerland after Rhiannon Roberts poked the ball across the line, past keeper Gaëlle Thalmann, from Kayleigh Green’s mis-directed header.
Unfortunately, for Wales, the joy was fairly short lived. Noelle Maritz pulled back the ball, for Ramona Bachmann to cleanly strike it home, to get Switzerland an equaliser just before the half-time whistle.
The Swiss dominated the second half, and they did have the chance to wrap things up early on when they were awarded a penalty, for handball, against Rachel Rowe. Ana-Maria Crnogorčević saw her penalty hit the post, as well as the subsequent rebound being chalked off.
Bachmann probably could have had a hattrick in the game, and she thought she had a second towards the end of normal time until it was ruled out as a result of teammate Riola Xhemaili being offside in the build up.
In the dying minutes of extra time, when it looked like the tie was headed to penalties, Switzerland found the breakthrough. Géraldine Reuteler flashed the ball towards the goal, and it went in off the slightest of touches by Fabienne Humm. The Swiss forward didn’t appear to know much about the ball being by her feet but she will surely claim the goal that broke Welsh hearts.
Wales can take a lot of pride out of their defeat though, having never before reached the play-offs for a major final and, in the process, breaking their attendance record twice. They will undoubtedly be back stronger.
Scotland lost out to a tidy finish by Amber Barett, who dedicated her goal to those that lost their lives in the Donegal petrol station explosion.
Scotland did have the chance to go ahead early on in the game, after being awarded a penalty for a handball against Niamh Fahey. Unfortunately for the Scots, Caroline Weir had her penalty saved by the Republic of Ireland’s keeper, Courtney Brosnan.
The game did not come without its controversy though. At full time, in celebration, the Republic of Ireland players were seen dancing and singing to a pro-IRA chant.
The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) were swift to respond, saying they “apologise for any offence caused by a song sung by players in the Ireland dressing room”.
Manager Vera Pauw also admitted it had taken the “shine” off the team’s victory in qualifying for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but she has stressed she will “remind.. [players].. of their responsibilities”.
Meanwhile, England, who had already qualified for the world cup, made sure their unbeaten run continued. 21,222 were at the Amex on Tuesday night to see the Lionesses draw 0-0 with the Czech Republic.
It may not have been the most memorable performance, but it was a big night for Lucy Bronze. She joined an elite list of names, including Casey Stoney, Alex Scott and recently retired Jill Scott, to make her 100th appearance for England.
It was also a special moment for Esme Morgan, as she came on as a substitute for Millie Bright to gain her first cap for her country.