Tuesday 26 September 2017

Game at a glance - Ireland v Poland

MAN OF THE MATCH Paul Green

Garry Doyle

The Leeds midfielder has a shortage of natural ability but was a huge presence here. His job was to prevent the Poles finding space as a holding midfield player and he did it admirably. Given how a role like this requires mobility, Green's fitness was vital. He proved a point to the new manager last night.

MAGIC MOMENT

Was there one?

TALKING POINT

It is still early days in the O'Neill regime but last night his tactics took centre stage. They differ from Trapattoni's but Ireland will always be Ireland; plucky but never thrilling to watch.

REFEREE WATCH

Slovakian referee Richard Trutz took control of the match early and rightly booked John O'Shea for a cheeky handball in the first half. He was more than lenient, however, in showing Michal Pazdan only a yellow card for his horror-foul on Jon Walters.

MANAGER WATCH

Martin O'Neill's intent was clear from the start. By selecting James McCarthy ahead of Glenn Whelan, he was prioritising craft over graft. O'Neill used Anthony Stokes as the split-striker, and insisted on his wingers coming infield. There was pragmatism too when he moved Marc Wilson into midfield with half an hour left, knowing the Stoke man's aggression was needed as Poland gained more possession and control.

CROWD WATCH

The last time Ireland played in Poznan, the place was jammed, the atmosphere electric with the mood fluctuating with the twists and turns of an exciting game. But that was the opening game of the Euros and this was the last friendly of the year. Hence, the visit of just 300 Irish fans for last night's encounter, which owed its atmosphere to the generosity of spirit shown by the 31,094 Poles who applauded every second of Amhran na bhFiann before loudly backing their team.

PITCH WATCH

Given Poznan's Municipal Stadium is used for Lech's home games it was no surprise that it was showing a bit of wear and tear now that Poland's winter has arrived. At no stage did the surface run completely true, although the technical shortcomings of both sides were more of a contributory factor to this game's problems .

MATCH STATISTICS

Frees: Poland 17 (9 first half); Ireland 16 (8)

Corners: Poland 3 (1); Ireland 3 (1)

Offsides: Poland 2; Ireland 2

Shots on target: Poland 4 (2); Ireland 1

Shots off target: Poland 7 (4); Ireland 9 (4)

Yellow cards: Poland 1 (Pazdan); Ireland 1 (O'Shea)

GARRY DOYLE

Irish Independent

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