Tuesday 23 May 2017

Game at a glance

Neil Ahern

Man of the match

Thomas Stewart

We couldn't pass up this rare opportunity to recognise one of our own, even if a certain Brazilian named below was head and shoulders above the rest last night. While most of the Irish shied away from taking on their much more illustrious opponents, Stewart might as well have been playing out in Bray as he skipped around the Juve defenders with ease, providing the only real attacking spark Michael O'Neill's side could fashion, while also creating the hosts' best chance of the match.

Superstar search

The boy Amauri looks a bit of a player -- and he'd want to, with the Old Lady having pulled €22.8m out of her purse for the Brazilian in 2008.

The rangy frontman displayed pace, power and some delightful skill throughout, while his calm, collected finish for the opener and perfectly placed headed finish for the second belied his below-average scoring record in his 10 years in Italian football. Could have twice completed his hat-trick, having struck the inside of the post and then fired narrowly wide late on.

Crowd watch

They probably thought things couldn't get much worse when gremlins interfered with PA announcer's welcoming speech, meaning the 6,000 capacity crowd were disappointingly introduced to "Am--ock O-ers" as the Hoops entered the field.

But things duly did get worse, as just minutes later Brazilian hitman Amauri tucked away a classy finish that even, ahem, Gary Twigg would be proud of. The two goals wouldn't dampen their spirits, however, as they even found time to wind up the great Alessandro Del Piero, informing him: "You'll never play for Rovers."

'Name in lights' moment

Seven minutes into the second half, Dan Murray joined in Rovers' attack and, when Stewart sailed a pin-point cross on to the centre-half's head, time seemed to move into slow motion. Murray leapt in the air, picked his spot and seemed almost certain to give the Dubliners an equaliser. Alas, he incredibly nodded wide, possibly blinded by the lights flashing his name.

Finally... is it a bird, is it a plane? no... it's hooperman

The Shamrock Rovers mascot has been making as many enemies as friends since his introduction to the Tallaght Stadium line-up this year.

The sponge-clad superhero was acting the menace before the game even started, sparking memories of an 'outside-the-stadium' report on RTE news as he danced behind the Italian TV presenter and his guest at pitch-side during their live build-up to the match. He was as animated as any superhero should be in front of his fans throughout the game, at one point in the first half mockingly sending a rather effeminate wave in the direction of an unimpressed Juve player as he waited to take a throw-in.

Irish Independent

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