football

Women's Nations League: Wales hold Germany as Republic of Ireland thrash Northern Ireland

Wales earned their first Women’s Nations League point in their concluding group match as they held Germany to a goalless draw in Swansea.

Gemma Grainger's side, already confirmed as relegated from Group A3, put in a highly commendable performance as they kept their two-time world champion opponents at bay and almost took the lead early on, with Rachel Rowe hitting a post.

While Wales end a losing run that had stretched to six matches in total, including July's friendly loss to the United States, the point for Germany was enough to take them through to the Nations League finals - and potential Paris Olympics qualification - with second-placed Denmark having been beaten 1-0 at home by Iceland.

A lively start by the hosts saw Elise Hughes opt to pass rather than shoot from a good position in the seventh minute, with Kathrin Hendrich making a block.

The resulting corner came to Sophie Ingle, the skipper's volley was saved by Merle Frohms and the ball was then in the net as Gemma Evans followed up, but the effort was disallowed for a foul with her having knocked the ball out of the goalkeeper's hands.

Wales then threatened again just past the quarter-hour mark as Rowe saw her low shot from the edge of the box hit a post.

Germany, struggling for momentum, registered an effort when Sjoeke Nusken's shot was dealt with by Olivia Clark, before visiting captain Alexandra Popp was on hand to get in the way of another attempt by Ingle.

The away side went close in the 41st minute when Sarai Linder's shot went narrowly over, and - after a double German change at the break saw Giulia Gwinn and Linda Dallmann introduced - Popp's free-kick was caught by Clark early in the second half.

Frohms dealt with an Evans attempt, while Clark made a good save to turn behind Elisa Senss' shot that deflected off Ingle.

Substitute Ceri Holland and Jess Fishlock made further unsuccessful attempts for Wales and Dallmann saw a deflected 80th-minute strike gathered at the other end.

Clark then did well again in stoppage time, turning Klara Buhl's drive behind at the near post as Wales secured the draw.

Northern Ireland's hopes of promotion in the Women's Nations League evaporated as Republic of Ireland cruised to a 6-1 Group B win at Windsor Park.

The Republic travelled north having already secured promotion to the top tier after five wins from five and their opponents never looked likely to deny their perfect record.

Leading 2-0 at half-time, the Republic turned on the style in the second half with four more goals, a world-class strike from captain Katie McCabe the pick of the bunch.

Northern Ireland were looking to avenge their 3-0 defeat in Dublin in September and they started well with Rebecca Holloway heading over despite their opponents dominating possession.

Lucy Quinn threaded her way through the Northern Ireland defence to open the scoring in the 36th minute and then turned provider two minutes later to set up Heather Payne.

Kyra Casura needed just two minutes of the second half to flash home a third from McCabe's cross, and the Arsenal winger lashed an unstoppable effort in off the underside of the bar after 50 minutes to effectively end the contest.

Louise Quinn headed the Republic further in front but the hosts gave their fans something to cheer when substitute Kerry Beattie narrowed the deficit by poking home from close range in the 74th minute.

Caitlin Hayes completed the scoring by grabbing the visitors' sixth goal four minutes from time, sealing a win which means Northern Ireland now face a relegation play-off.