Thursday 22 February 2018

History repeating itself: Lowlights of Ireland’s late goal heartbreaks

Rep of Ireland's players watch on after the injury time equaliser for Macedonia in 1999. Photo: Sportsfile
Rep of Ireland's players watch on after the injury time equaliser for Macedonia in 1999. Photo: Sportsfile

By Ciaran Lennon and Cormac Byrne

LAST night’s devastating goal from David Alaba which snatched a draw from the jaws of victory was a harrowing moment for the Irish but not the first time we have suffered in such circumstances.

Belgium 1 Republic of Ireland 0, Heysel Stadium Brussells 1981.

Not much was expected from our qualifying campaign for the 1982 World Cup in Spain as we entered a group with Belgium, France, Netherlands, and Cyprus with the top two earning automatic qualification.

After victories over Cyprus and Holland, a draw at home to Belgium and defeat in Paris meant Ireland were still in contention to advance.

Ireland travelled to the Heysel Stadium full of hope and bossed the game. Frank Stapleton had a goal cruelly disallowed.

In the 87th minute the Belgians were awarded a debatable free.

Vandereycken played the free into a crowded goalmouth where goalkeeper McDonagh was clearly impeded as he sought to punch the ball clear. The ball rebounded off the crossbar and with McDonagh helpless on the ground, Jan Ceulemans headed the winning goal.

Ireland went on to draw with Holland 2-2 in Rotterdam before beating France 3-2 at Landsdowne Road. The French needed to win their two remaining qualifiers. They did, and Ireland lost out on qualification on goal difference.



Macedonia 1 Ireland 1, Phillip II Arena Skopje 1999.

One of the darkest days in Irish soccer.

Ireland started brightly and took the lead through Niall Quinn but four minutes into second half injury time, Goran Stavreski rose highest to head home a corner and rescue a draw for the Macedonians.

The result meant that Yugoslavia topped the group and Ireland went to the playoffs where they were beaten over two legs by Turkey.


Croatia 1 Ireland 0, Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb 1999.

In the round of games before our ill-fated trip to Skopje Ireland conceded another devastating late goal.

Irish hearts were broken 5 minutes into stoppage time when Davor Suker struck a cruel blow.

In the grand scheme of things a point here would not have changed the overall complexion of the group, but this felt like such a hurtful defeat.

Croatia won the game but neither side qualified.


Holland 2 Ireland 2, Ajax Arena Amsterdam 2000.

Ireland kicked off their qualifying campaign for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea with a 2-2 draw away to the Dutch.

Superb goals from Robbie Keane and Jason McAteer put Ireland in the ascendancy but Holland pulled one back before Giovanni Van Bronckhorst unleashed an unstoppable shot six minutes from time to deny Ireland a famous win.

McAteer and Ireland would have their revenge in the 1-0 win at Landsdowne Road in the return fixture and Ireland qualified.


Israel 1 Republic of Ireland 1, Ramat Gan Stadium Tel Aviv 2005.

Ireland under Brian Kerr began the campaign for the 2006 World Cup in Germany with wins over Cyprus and the Faroe Islands and draws away from home to France and Switzerland.

Ireland travelled to Tel Aviv having yet to concede a goal and took a first half lead through Clinton Morrison’s header.

Kerr’s side looked to be heading for another clean sheet and victory until Abbas Suan equalised from outside the box in the dying moments.

The campaign unravelled from their and Ireland missed out on qualification, costing Brian Kerr his job.



Wales 2 Republic of Ireland 2, Millennium Stadium Cardiff 2007.

Ireland were already out of the running to reach Euro 2008 but had pride at stake in this game.

Wales hit the front but Ireland deservedly levelled through Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle put us in front in the second half.

A draw was snatched from the jaws of victory late on however, as Paul McShane’s silly challenge led to penalty which Jason Koumas tucked away.

Ireland finished Group D in third place behind Germany and the Czech Republic.



Ireland 2 Italy 2, Croke Park Dublin 2009.

Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland came within minutes of claiming the victory over Italy that would have given us top spot and automatic qualification from Group Eight for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Ireland took the lead through a stunning Glenn Whelan effort from distance but his goal was cancelled out by Mauro Camoranesi’s header.

The game looked to heading for a draw when Sean St Ledger met Stephen Hunt’s free-kick in the 87th minute to send Croke Park into raptures.

A famous victory was stolen from us however when three minutes and six seconds after St Ledger’s goal, Alberto Gilardhino wrongfooted Shay Given to slide home the equaliser condemning Ireland to the play-offs.



France 1 Republic of Ireland 1, Stade de France Paris 2009.

Ireland were drawn against France in the play-offs for the 2010 World Cup and things were not looking good for Ireland as they lost the first leg in Dublin 1-0 thanks to Nicolas Anelka’s deflected goal.

Ireland produced one of their greatest ever displays in Paris and levelled the tie on aggregate thanks to Robbie Keane’s first half goal.

Trapattoni’s side dominated proceedings from there on but couldn’t find another goal and the game went into extra time.

In the 103rd minute, Flourent Malouda lofted a hopeful ball into the Irish area which was prevented from going wide by the hand of the blatant Thierry Henry who squared for William Gallas to head the winner.

The rest is history.

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