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Republic of Ireland 0-2 England: Lauren James and Alex Greenwood goals see Lionesses to first Euro 2025 qualifying win

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England won their first Euro 2025 qualifying game with a 2-0 win against the Republic of Ireland, thanks to first-half goals from Lauren James and Alex Greenwood.

The phrase ‘must-win’ was already being touted for England’s the second qualification match, such is the difficulty of Group A3. They had drawn 1-1 with Sweden at Wembley on Friday, and needed a victory to boost their hopes of qualifying automatically for Euro 2025.

James settled some nerves inside 12 minutes as she slotted home after a kind ricochet off former England youth international Anna Patten.

Greenwood’s penalty (18) doubled England’s leader after Ruesha Littlejohn was penalised for handball. But she did miss a second effort soon after, hitting the post after Louise Quinn was also judged to have handled the ball, albeit harshly.

Ireland pushed for goals late on in their best spell of the game, but poor passing in the final third and a lack of finishing touch cost them the chance for some famous points.

England now move second in Group A3 with four points, two behind France, who beat Sweden 1-0 earlier on Tuesday. Ireland remain bottom with no points.

How England beat the Republic of Ireland

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Lauren James is congratulated by Lauren Hemp after her opener against the Republic of Ireland

The two sides had not met in 37 years, and it was England who went ahead early on. Lucy Bronze was picked out over on the right of the box, and her attempted pass ricocheted off Patten. It then fell kindly for the waiting James, who slotted home.

Five minutes later and England were awarded a penalty. It took the referee a moment to consider her decision, but she pointed to the spot after Jess Park’s attempted shot hit the raised arms of Littlejohn. Greenwood then coolly finished into the left corner.

Team news headlines

  • Leah Williamson started as England captain in one of five changes. Jess Carter, Hannah Hampton, Ella Toone and Jess Park also came into the XI.
  • Mary Earps, Niamh Charles, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Grace Clinton and Georgia Stanway dropped to the bench.
  • The Republic of Ireland made two changes. Ruesha Littlejohn and Lucy Quinn came into the XI, with Megan Connolly and Emily Murphy on the bench.

Just before the hour, the Lionesses had another penalty awarded. This time, it was Louise Quinn who was penalised for handball, although the decision was far harsher. The defender had little time to react to the incoming ball, and with no VAR, the decision could not be reviewed.

Greenwood again stepped up to take, choosing to go right. However, her effort hit the post before going wide as England missed the chance to add their third.

The start of the second was a quiet affair, but Courtney Brosnan made a sensational save in the 65th minute. Alessia Russo nodded down a James cross for the incoming Fran Kirby, but her shot from close range was stopped by the body of the goalkeeper.

But Ireland could have pulled a goal back late on. Katie McCabe floated a cross to Louise Quinn at the back post, who then flashed the ball through six-yard box. No other green shirt could convert before Kirby saw it behind for a corner.

Hannah Hampton was needed to keep out Hayes too as she tried to turn home from McCabe’s corner. But the goalkeeper was positioned correctly to push the effort away, as she ended the game with a clean sheet.

Williamson: I feel 10 times taller putting on England shirt

England captain Leah Williamson to ITV Sport: “I really love playing for England. When I put this badge on, I feel 10 times taller, 10 times stronger.

“The group are such a great group of girls and I loved every second of that.”

“I had my eyes set on this [playing for England during her ACL recovery]. With ACLs, you come back hopefully in a healthy way, but I wanted to be good enough to play for England again.

“The standards are so high and the players that have been here have made them higher… I felt today was a completion of that journey.

“The most important thing was three points. It’s what we came here for. We would have liked it to be more convincing… it was a good finish to hold out.”

On facing France in May: “We’ll get better, they will probably get better as well but you can expect a competitive side in June.”

Wiegman: We hope to manage games better

Alex Greenwood scores her first penalty against the Republic of Ireland
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Alex Greenwood scores her first penalty against the Republic of Ireland

England manager Sarina Wiegman to ITV Sport: “It was a hard game. We totally dominated the first half and could have been up 4-0.

“Later on in the game, they came with a strong throw-in and had more opportunities than the first half. It became a fight and we wanted to stay out of the fight. We had to show lots more, being really tight in possession.

“This game was totally different [to Sweden]. They tried to play physically and we had some moments when we played really well and we could have switched the ball more, but we were a little loose.

“I see improvements, but you hope you can manage the game better.”

On Williamson’s return: “She played only home games and now it is away with a lot of noise and I think she stayed calm and played well. It is really good to see her.”

McCabe ‘proud’ of ROI application

Louise Quinn questions the referee after she is penalised for handball
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Louise Quinn questions the referee after she is penalised for handball

Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe to ITV Sport: “In the first half, I felt like we were too passive at times and gave them a lot of space.

“We looked at that at half-time, tweaked a few things and needed to push on and try and get something. I’m proud of how we applied ourselves.

“I haven’t seen the [first] penalty back, but it is frustrating. They are avoidable goals. We created a few chances towards the end and unfortunately, they didn’t go in for us.

“We will be reviewing and seeing where we can be better, especially in the transitions going forward, be better on the ball and more dangerous.

“There are four games and we know we have qualities and strengths. We could have had two goals there and a bit of a different game. We have to keep going and we won’t be dropping our heads.”

On the second penalty against Louise Quinn: “There’s not much you can do, it’s that handball rule. I think the football Gods redeemed themselves off the post.”

What’s next?

England‘s Euros qualifying campaign continues next month when hosting France at St James’ Park on May 31; kick-off 8pm.

Republic of Ireland return to action on the same night, entertaining Sweden at Aviva Stadium; kick-off 7.30pm.

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