Three own goals help NI past Latvia in qualifier

Enija-Anna Vaivode scored two of Latvia’s three own goals as NI earned a fortunate victory

Latvia scored three own goals as Northern Ireland beat the minnows 3-1 in their low-key final World Cup qualifier in Jurmala.

The Latvians, ranked 122nd in the world, took the lead against the run of play when Anastasija Rocane’s powered a header home to capitalise on Demi Vance’s mistimed jump on 27 minutes.

Vance redeemed herself with a crucial role in Northern Ireland’s equaliser 10 minutes later when her dangerous corner was spilled in to her own net by home goalkeeper Enija-Anna Vaivode.

Marissa Callaghan struck the crossbar as Kenny Shiels’ side pressed for a winner, which came when Arta Luize Lubina touched the ball beyond the Latvian line with two minutes to play before Vaivode’s second own goal, which came after Caragh Hamilton’s effort hit the post, sealed NI’s win.

Northern Ireland could not progress to the World Cup finals and were locked into a third-place finish behind Euro 2022 winners England and Austria, however the win secured a record points tally of 19 in a qualification campaign.

The match was Northern Ireland’s final competitive outing for 12 months until the start of Euro 2025 qualifying and Shiels’ side will have to count on friendlies to maintain the momentum built during a maiden appearance at a major tournament at Euro 2022 this summer.

It was a similar performance to Friday’s penultimate qualifier in Luxembourg, where Northern Ireland dominated against a lower-ranked nation but struggled to turn their possession into goals.

However, unlike in Friday’s game NI were punished when Rocane capitalised on Vance’s mistimed jump to give the hosts a surprise lead from a corner.

There was an element of fortune about the equaliser as Vaivode inexplicably pushed the ball in to her own net from a corner.

Latvia, with one win from nine matches, appeared determined not to surrender their lead despite the visitors’ pressing, with Marissa Callaghan hit the crossbar in NI’s best chance before the crucial second goal came in the 89th minute when Sarah McFadden went to challenge Vaivode from a corner and the unsighted goalkeeper pushed the ball in to the net off the unfortunate Lubina.

The three points were wrapped up in the final play of the match when Hamilton charged onto Kirsty McGuinness’ ball across goal.

Hamilton’s effort came back off the post and struck Vaivode before nestling in the net to complete an unfortunate hat-trick of own goals by the Latvians.

Lacklustre NI almost punished by Latvia

Northern Ireland, who beat the Latvians 4-0 at Windsor Park last September, almost took the lead in the early stages when Emily Wilson found Caitlin McGuinness in the area, and the teenage striker did well to bring the ball down but could only fire over on the turn.

Rebecca McKenna’s outstretched foot denied Karlina Miksone the opener before Hamilton, debutant Ellie Mason and Toni-Leigh Finnegan all spurned half-chances.

The NI pressure kept coming as McKenna’s effort was blocked by Rocane, however the Latvians, who lost 20-0 to Euro 2022 champions England earlier in the qualifiers, almost took the lead when Nelle Treimane’s effort was pushed over by Jackie Burns and the deadlock was broken on 27 minutes when Rocane headed home.

It was a goal against the run of play but the Latvian’s hard work was cancelled out by Vaivode’s own goal as the goalkeeper spilled Vance’s corner into her own net on 37 minutes.

The goal settled Northern Ireland down but the visitors had Burns to thank for going in level at the break after the Reading goalkeeper pulled off a smart save to deny Olga Sevcova after the striker had broken the offside trap.

Anastasija Rocane put Latvia, ranked 122nd in the world, into the lead
Anastasija Rocane put Latvia, ranked 122nd in the world, into the lead

Marissa Callaghan was unfortunate not to complete the turnaround just shy of the hour mark when her delightful clipped effort came back off the crossbar, and the captain was inches away from getting a touch on Hamilton’s delivery moments later.

It was a flat second-half showing and Latvia defended well to smother any Northern Ireland attacks. Kirsty McGuinness saw an effort well blocked and fellow substitute Rebecca Holloway fired over from the resulting corner.

However, Lubina’s own goal spared any NI blushes and McGuinness saw a powerful close-range effort blocked by the defender as the visitors pressed for a third.

Burns stopped Latvia securing a famous draw when she leapt to claw away Viktorija Zaicikova’s glancing effort and Vaivode’s second own put the game beyond doubt in the closing seconds.

The Irish FA said on Saturday that the squad will have a training campaign in either late October or early November which is likely to include a friendly game, with another spring camp also planned.



Formation 3-5-2

  • 23Vaivode
  • 13Voitane
  • 6Lubina
  • 10Rocane
  • 9Poluhovica
  • 16Gornela
  • 20SmirnovaSubstituted forZaicikovaat 54′minutes
  • 19MiksoneBooked at 79mins
  • 5Treimane
  • 18DanilovaSubstituted forFedotovaat 54′minutes
  • 14Sevcova


  • 1Nesterova
  • 2Garanca
  • 3Lodzina
  • 4Vitmore
  • 7Zacmane
  • 8Zaicikova
  • 11Fedotova
  • 12Sklemenova
  • 15Freidenfelde
  • 17Senberga
  • 21Druvina

Northern Ireland

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 1Burns
  • 2McKenna
  • 4Robson
  • 18MasonSubstituted forMcGuinnessat 69′minutes
  • 3Vance
  • 17FinneganSubstituted forMageeat 68′minutes
  • 6Hamilton
  • 16CaldwellBooked at 26mins
  • 8CallaghanSubstituted forHollowayat 69′minutes
  • 19WilsonSubstituted forMcCarronat 69′minutes
  • 9McGuinnessSubstituted forBeattieat 82′minutes


  • 5Nelson
  • 7McCarron
  • 10McDaniel
  • 11McGuinness
  • 12Turner
  • 13McKimm
  • 14Wade
  • 15Holloway
  • 20Andrews
  • 21Beattie
  • 22Magee
  • 23Woods

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