Women's World Cup play-offs: Jess Fishlock hails 'best and most important goal'

Women’s World Cup play-offs: Jess Fishlock hails ‘best and most important goal’

Jess Fishlock is Wales women’s second highest goalcorer behind Helen Ward

Wales’ match winner Jess Fishlock says her goal against Bosnia-Herzegovina is the best and most important of her international career.

Fishlock’s extra-time volley sent Wales into the World Cup play-off final where they will face Switzerland in Zurich on Tuesday, 11 October.

Wales have never reached a major finals and Fishlock, their most-capped player, says her side have nothing to lose.

“We have no pressure on us, no one expects us to win,” Fishlock said.

Fishlock’s volley settled a tense contest at the Cardiff City Stadium as Wales shrugged off the disappointment of seeing four goals disallowed for offside in normal time.

There was no denying the quality of their winner and Fishlock, 33, Wales’ most-capped player, says her strike was a career highlight in an international shirt.

Despite winning nine domestic titles and two Champions Leagues, Fishlock is as determined as ever to reach a first major finals with Wales.

“Tonight was a pretty special,” she explained.

“The crowd and the occasion and winning the game, taking it to extra time, it says a lot about this group.

“I think that was my best and most important Wales goal, probably both.

“It is one of those moments you kind of dream of and the celebration was epic. I didn’t even know what to do and I ended up sliding, which is not me.

“It was pure emotion we have for each other and pure relief; don’t think I’ve felt something like that before to be honest.”

Wales manager Gemma Grainger said her side’s failure to break the deadlock in 90 minutes did not diminish her belief that Wales would get the result they needed to reach the next stage.

Despite seeing four goals ruled out for offside, but Grainger felt a one was coming.

“To have four disallowed goals can make a team not believe, but we were relentless,” she told BBC Sport Wales.

“I never wavered, we knew we were the better team. The crowd kept us going after disallowed goal after disallowed goal.

“After four disallowed goals it’s hard not to be disappointed, but we never lost belief and 1-0 is one of my favourite scores in football.”

Jess Fishlock's volley
Jess Fishlock last week won the NWSL Shield with club side OL Reign

Grainger happy to be underdog in Zurich

Wales now need to beat Switzerland to either qualify outright for the World Cup or more likely, to set-up a final qualifier in New Zealand in February.

Grainger admits Wales will be the underdog against a Switzerland side ranked 21st in the world, nine places above Wales, but is not worried that extra time in the Bosnia-Herzegovina game will have an impact on her players’ energy levels.

“In final of a World Cup play-off not sure if it matters you’ve got legs or what you’ve done in previous game,” she said.

“I don’t think any thing will stop these girls in terms of tiredness. We know we won’t be favourites in Switzerland, they are a higher ranked team and just played in the European Championship.

“But the belief in this team is let’s flip it. We’ve got nothing to lose, everyone will think Switzerland will win and we’ve got to use that to our advantage.

“We didn’t come this far not to compete in game 12. Bosnia showed us what the underdog mentality is. But we have got the belief to perform against higher ranked opposition.”

Fishlock agrees Wales will be underdogs, but believes that suits Wales.

“The reality of the situation – and as far as I’m concerned – is we’ve got nothing to lose,” she said.

“What have we got to be scared of? Let’s go and enjoy it. We haven’t beaten these teams away, but if we play 50% like we did against France (in a 2-0 qualifying defeat in November 2021) we’ll give them a game.”

Captain Sophie Ingle says she finds it hard to believe how far Wales have come in recent campaigns on an night on which they played in front of a record attendance of 15,200

“I’m so proud of the girls,” she said.

“We show resilience, we make it hard for ourselves and keep the fans on the edge of their seats, but we got the job done.

“When I started only a couple of hundred of people came to watch, so it’s unbelievable we’ve got to this stage.”

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