Iceland advance to Finland finals

Iceland 3-0 Republic of Ireland (agg: 4-1)
Dóra María Lárusdóttir scored twice and Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir claimed her 12th goal of qualifying to help Iceland to their first major tournament.

Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir (right) scored her tournament-leading 12th qualifying goal to help Iceland through
Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir (right) scored her tournament-leading 12th qualifying goal to help Iceland through ©Sportsfile

Iceland dominant
The play-off tie stood at 1-1 when the game kicked off and Iceland swiftly took control, Lárusdóttir scoring midway through the first half. Ireland were being allowed few chances and Lárusdóttir and Vidarsdóttir made sure of victory after the break, taking Iceland into their first senior national-team final tournament for either gender, though they did reach the two-legged UEFA European Women's Championship last eight in 1995.

Early chances
Iceland scored in the first minute in Dublin on Sunday and nearly repeated the trick tonight when Vidarsdóttir's volley was saved by Emma Byrne. Adapting better to the freezing conditions, on a pitch that had been under snow earlier this week, Iceland continued to press and Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir headed Hólmfrídur Magnúsdóttir's cross against the bar.

The breakthrough came on 23 minutes. Ásta Árnadóttir played the ball in from the left and it fell to Lárusdóttir, who looped a shot beyond Byrne. Ireland now had a tough task against a team who had not conceded a home goal since August 2006, and remained under pressure, though the visiting defence kept chances at a premium for the rest of the half.

Ireland change
Ireland continued to struggle in the second half so manager Noel King brought on their all-time leading goalscorer Olivia O'Toole, who made a huge impact as a substitute at the weekend. Within a few minutes of her introduction Ireland came closest to an equaliser when Mary Therese McDonnell was just unable to get a touch on Meabh De Burca's chip past goalkeeper María Ágústsdóttir.

Clinching goals
At the other end Byrne was forced into action again to deny Vidarsdóttir from close range after Katrín Jónsdóttir's cross. But the Arsenal LFC goalkeeper was beaten on the hour when Lárusdóttir looped the ball in from the right and Vidarsdóttir headed in for her competition-leading 12th goal of qualifying. Byrne continued to be the busier goalkeeper and Iceland put the game beyond Ireland when Lárusdóttir broke through and produced a neat angled finish. Iceland continued to press but their place in Finland next summer was already secure.