Monday 11 December 2017

Five talking points from Ireland's heartbreaking defeat to Serbia

Serbia’s Nemanja Matic celebrates with team mates at the end of the match
Serbia’s Nemanja Matic celebrates with team mates at the end of the match

John Brennan

No direct route

Well that's that for the World Cup by the direct route. Now we have to beat Wales in Cardiff next month to even get a play-off. Ireland took ten points from their first four qualifiers, just three from the next four.

Ireland can play

There were long spells of this match when Ireland calmed passed the ball to each other. Where did it come from, or more accurately, where was this comfort on the ball last Saturday night in Tbilisi when Ireland's players simply didn't want to know about having the ball at their feet?

We can knock the ball around as good as any other team of our size. Not the Germans, nor the Italians, nor other technically gifted teams. But as good as Georgia did if we had the courage to try it.

If only Robbie Keane could turn back the years

In our last four competitive matches, three of them in Dublin, Ireland have scored just two goals. And one of them was by a center-half, Shane Duffy, from a set-piece. The goals have dried up for Ireland's forward players just at the wrong time.

We learned that international football is, however, a game of inches

For Serbia's goal, James McClean just missed making contact with a header that would have cleared the danger and then Jon Walters was just an inch away from a block on on Aleksandar Kolarov 's shot.

Injuries cost us

For a country like Ireland you always hope to have all your players present for an international week. Adding Jeff Hendrick and James McCarthy to the long-term absence of Seamus Coleman was too much for Ireland to carry over these four days.

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