It’s back-to-back victories for Cymru as they followed up on their home win over Kazakhstan with three points in Pärnu as Gemma Grainger’s team defeated Estonia 1-0 with a dominant display.
Estonia 0-1 Cymru
FIFA Women's World Cup Qualifying
- Pärnu Rannastaadion, Pärnu
- 21 September 2021
The six points earned in their opening FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying matches sees Cymru at the top of Group I with favourites France.
At the Pärnu Rannastaadion, Cymru picked up where they left off against Kazakhstan in Llanelli on Friday night as the team immediately went on the attack against Estonia. The Estonian defence creaked under the early pressure as Cymru finally made one of their chances count.
Jess Fishlock played a superb through ball that split the Estonian defence to roll perfectly into Natasha Harding’s path, whose confident finish gave Cymru a fifth minute lead.
Kayleigh Green thought she’d put Cymru further ahead but after getting the ball in the net she turned around to see the raised flag of the assistant referee and her goal was ruled out for offside.
Grainger’s team kept their attacking positivity throughout the first half and into the second, but following that early goal, the Estonian defence – well drilled by former Cymru boss Jarmo Matikainen – became solid and remained resolute against the constant pressure.
Estonia offered no attacking threat during the match at all, perhaps recognising how ruthless Cymru could be should they dare attempt to give them space by playing higher up the pitch.
Cymru will feel frustrated that they didn’t score more goals after controlling the match, but the positives Grainger will take from this game will be the chances her team created, the three points and the clean sheet.
Following the victory, Grainger said: “We set out at the start of this camp to get two wins and that’s what we’ve done. We created lots of chances and that’s what we wanted to do but we will take a look at what we can improve.
“When you play opposition like we have today, they set up very well and when you look at Estonia you’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They set up to block and frustrate us and when playing teams like that, being patient is really important. I’m pleased that we are creating chances. When you’re creating chances, the next bit will come also.”
Having scored the winner, Harding added: “It was difficult, and we knew it was going to be. We had to win and for me I don’t care how we do it, we have to get in that mindset and it’s six points.”
Cymru go to Slovenia next in the group on 22 October followed by the return match against Estonia in Cardiff on 26 October.
Estonia: Kork, Lillemae, Uleksin, Raamet, Zlidnis, Merisalu (Daut 90+2’), Ounpuu, Rosen (Treiberg 90+2’), Kubassova, Bannikova, Tammik. Subs: Strigin, Gromov, Saar, Niit, Laas, Mengel, Tammeveski, Joandi, Liir
Cymru: O'Sullivan, Roberts, Ladd, Evans, Rowe, James, Harding, Fishlock, Ingle (c), Holland (Jones 64’), K Green (Ward 90’). Subs: Clark, Soper, Woodham, J Green, Hughes, Estcourt, E Morgan, Wynne, Filbey, F Morgan
Goal: Harding 5’