Saturday 29 October 2016

Seven of the biggest matches in the Republic of Ireland's history

Published 10/10/2015 | 12:36

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill's side take on Poland in Warsaw
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill's side take on Poland in Warsaw

The Republic of Ireland face one of the biggest matches in their history on Sunday evening when they go into Euro 2016 battle with Poland knowing they could emerge with a ticket to France.

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Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the previous occasions on which a nation held its breath and ultimately jumped for joy or wept in disappointment.

June 12, 1988: England 0 Republic of Ireland 1

Ireland's first visit to the finals of a major tournament could hardly have got off to a better start when they launched their Euro '88 campaign with a famous victory over England in Stuttgart. Ray Houghton's header won the day as he wrote himself into Irish folklore, and not for the last time.

June 25, 1990: Republic of Ireland 0 Romania 0 (After extra-time, Ireland win 5-4 on penalties)

The Republic had made it out of their group to the knockout stages of the World Cup in Italy after draws with England, Egypt and Holland, and faced Romania in the last 16 in Genoa. The teams could not be separated over 120 minutes and when it came to the penalty shoot-out, Pat Bonner saved Daniel Timofte's attempt to set the stage for unlikely hero David O'Leary to win it.

June 18, 1994: Republic of Ireland 1 Italy 0

A rare error from the usually imperious Franco Baresi allowed Houghton to fire past goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca and hand the Republic a stunning World Cup victory over Italy at the Giants Stadium in New Jersey. Ireland had to defend their lead for 78 minutes, but with Paul McGrath in commanding form, did so to shock the Italians, who recovered to reach the final of USA '94.

September 1, 2001: Republic of Ireland 1 Holland 0

Mick McCarthy's men found themselves up against it when, 58 minutes into their World Cup qualifier against the Dutch at Lansdowne Road, defender Gary Kelly was sent off for a second bookable offence. But, against all the odds, Jason McAteer put them ahead nine minutes later and, despite the presence of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Patrick Kluivert, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Pierre van Hooijdonk on the pitch as the clock ran down, Holland were unable to find an equaliser.

November 15, 2001: Iran 1 Republic of Ireland 0 (Ireland win 2-1 on aggregate)

Having finished in second place in their qualifying group, Ireland found themselves pitched into play-off battle with Iran as a place in the 2002 World Cup finals in the Far East was dangled tantalisingly before them. First-leg goals from Ian Harte and Robbie Keane five days earlier sent them to Tehran with a 2-0 lead. Mysteriously without skipper Roy Keane for the away leg, and although Yahya Golmohammadi handed the hosts a 1-0 win amid a fevered atmosphere at the Azadi Stadium, the Republic were through.

June 5, 2002: Republic of Ireland 1 Germany 1

When Miroslav Klose headed the Germans into a 20th-minute lead in Ibaraki, few neutrals expected anything other than a routine World Cup group game victory for his side. But, with injury-time at the end of the game ticking away, substitute Niall Quinn flicked on Steve Finnan's long ball for Robbie Keane and the striker beat keeper Oliver Kahn to snatch a point.

November 18, 2009: France 1 Republic of Ireland 1 (After extra-time, France win 2-1 on aggregate)

The home side ran out at the Stade de France boasting a 1-0 lead in this World Cup play-off and with one foot on the plane to South Africa. However, on a night when Ireland produced the most thrilling display of Giovanni Trapattoni's reign, Robbie Keane levelled the aggregate score before Thierry Henry's handball set up William Gallas to score the most controversial of extra-time equalisers.

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