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Ireland beat Italy to keep Nations Cup hopes alive

Hannah McLoughlin is congratulated after scoring against Italy

Ireland’s hopes of reaching the semi-finals of the Nations Cup remain alive after a 3-0 win over Italy in Terrassa.

Hannah McLoughlin scored twice from penalty corners and assisted on the opening goal from Niamh Carey as Ireland bounced back from their 5-1 defeat by Spain.

It means that a win over Korea on Thursday will most likely be enough to make the last four.

The winners of the tournament will be promoted to the FIH Pro League next season.

“It was definitely better than our performance against Spain," McLoughlin said after the game.

"We worked a lot on our set pieces and penalty corners and it paid off.

”We’re a resilient bunch and we know against Spain wasn’t our best day but we turned it around and now we are excited to face Korea with the chance to make the semi-finals.”

McLoughlin was at the centre of all of Ireland's best moments, creating their opening goal after only four minutes.

Carey had already seen one effort saved by Italian goalkeeper Lucia Caruso but she was left all alone on the back post to convert McLoughlin’s pass moments later.

Early in the second quarter her shot from a penalty corner hit the stick of the Italian runner and looped high into the net to double the advantage.

With seconds remaining in the first half, another shot by McLoughlin from a corner was half-stopped by Caruso but the ball crept under her body and over the line for the third Irish goal.

Italy looked to have a perfectly good goal disallowed just after the interval.

An effort from a penalty corner deflected in off the pads of Irish goalkeeper Elizabeth Murphy. After two video referrals it was ruled out for a back stick but the decision looked harsh.

The remainder of the game was a scrappy affair with Katie Mullan denied by a good save from Caruso and Ireland will be disappointed that they couldn’t add to their tally with goal difference a potential factor as to who will progress in the tournament.