Goals at the start of either half from Michelle O'Brien and Stephanie Curtis earned the Republic of Ireland a 2-0 victory against Hungary in Miskolc, to move above Sweden and into second place in UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ qualifying Group 2.
Noel King's side were overwhelmed in their last outing in February but any early nerves were soon allayed when O'Brien opened the scoring after 18 seconds, outmuscling two defenders before deftly lobbing goalkeeper Melinda Szvorda. The Republic of Ireland had chances to extend their lead, but were increasingly forced on the back foot by a Hungary team growing in confidence and it took something special from Curtis after the hour to make the points safe. The striker rifled in an unstoppable shot after a well-rehearsed free-kick to keep Irish hopes alive and leave Hungary at the foot of the section.
O'Brien and Curtis may have taken the headlines, but the Irish were equally indebted the excellent Emma Byrne. The Arsenal LFC goalkeeper made a string of saves, most notably when the hosts were awarded a penalty for handball seven minutes from time. Katalin Fogl stepped up, but Byrne made a splendid save and the forward then fired the rebound over the crossbar. It was a wastefulness that typified Hungary's performance, as Anett Nagy and Anita Padár, in particular, squandered fine build-up work in front of goal. Their side will now look to avoid the wooden spoon while the Irish prepare for June's decisive meeting with Sweden.