SHELBOURNE CLAIMED a 1-0 victory over ZNK Pomurje in their opening game of the 2022-23 UEFA Women's Champions League, which sees them progress to the Final of the Champions Path.The Reds will now meet Icelandic champions Valur on Sunday, August 21st with the winners advancing through to the next stage of the competition. This was a difficult game in hot conditions in the Fazanerija City Stadium, Murska Sobota in Slovenia. But the blistering start made by Shels gave them an early advantage that they would not allow slip away. Within just two minutes, the SSE Airtricity Women's National League champions were awarded a penalty. However, Noelle Murray's spot-kick was saved by goalkeeper Iva Kocijan. Shels didn't even have a moment to fret about that miss as Heather O'Reilly popped up two minutes later to loop a headed effort into the back of the net for her first goal for the club. Up the other end, goalkeeper Amanda Budden made the first of several fine saves to keep out the hosts. The Cork stopper was in sensational form throughout this tricky tie. Shels looked sharper in the first half and Murray forced Kocijan into pushing a long-effort effort onto her own crossbar, while Emma Starr was a constant threat with her runs off the ball.
37-year-old @USWNT legend @HeatherOReilly scores on her @shelsfc @UWCL debut.
An American original, coming out of retirement to do what she loves: score goals and bring the joy. Remarkable to witness. pic.twitter.com/IU17yOOX9g
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) August 18, 2022
An injury to Jess Gargan forced a reshuffle with Keeva Keenan - who was superb - switching from left to right-back as Leah Doyle came on. And it was a second period that saw Pomurje throw everything at it.Budden was called on to make a couple of fine saves, while the leadership of Pearl Slattery told as her team-mates took her lead by throwing their bodies at shots and making vital interceptions. Shels may have capitalised on a couple of breakaways but their narrow lead proved to be enough to earn victory. They will take a lot of confidence from this game as they prepare for the next test on Sunday. ZNK Pomurje: Kocijan; Sostaric, Kos, Dimitrijevic, Rakovec (Zajmi 71); K Horvat, Klopcic, Korosec; Yoshida (Vilcnik 66), Makovec, Kolbi. Shelbourne: Amanda Budden; Jess Gargan (Leah Doyle 46), Shauna Fox, Pearl Slattery, Keeva Keenan; Heather O'Reilly (Abbie Larkin 53), Jessie Stapleton, Rachel Graham (Alex Kavanagh 72), Emma Starr; Noelle Murray (Megan Smyth-Lynch 80); Jemma Quinn (Lia O'Leary 80). Referee: Frederikke Lydia Søkjær (Denmark).