Monday 17 June 2019

Misfiring Ireland struggle past 195th-ranked Gibraltar to hold onto top spot in Group D

Ireland 2 Gibraltar 0

Callum Robinson of the Republic of Ireland celebrates with team mate David McGoldrick after a Gibraltar own goal during the 2020 UEFA European Championships group D qualifying match between the Republic of Ireland and Gibraltar at the Aviva Stadium on June 10, 2019 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Callum Robinson of the Republic of Ireland celebrates with team mate David McGoldrick after a Gibraltar own goal during the 2020 UEFA European Championships group D qualifying match between the Republic of Ireland and Gibraltar at the Aviva Stadium on June 10, 2019 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

John Brennan

The good news is that Ireland are top of their Euro 2020 qualifying group with half of the eight games played.

The bad news is that this was a shockingly bad performance by Ireland who showed no guile or flair in throwing themselves at a Gibraltar wall at the Aviva Stadium. Another display or two like this and Ireland won't stay top for long.

That the breakthough goal came from an own goal summed up the 90 minutes with Joseph Chipolina diverting a David McGoldrick shot in the 29th minute that was going wide into his own net.

Sub Robbie Brady finished it off with diving header off a James McClean cross in the 93rd minute as Gibraltar's legs finally betrayed the part-timers against the professionals.

Republic of Ireland fans in the stand
Niall Carson/PA Wire
Republic of Ireland fans in the stand Niall Carson/PA Wire
Republic of Ireland fans in the stands Niall Carson/PA Wire
Gibraltar fans Action Images via Reuters/Tony O'Brien
Republic of Ireland fans in the stands
Republic of Ireland fans in the stands
Gibraltar fans during the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying, Group D match
Republic of Ireland fans in the stands Niall Carson/PA Wire
Fans shield their eyes from the sun during the match Niall Carson/PA Wire
Fans outside the stadium before the match Action Images via Reuters/Tony O'Brien
Republic of Ireland fans outside the stadium before the match Action Images via Reuters/Tony O'Brien

McGoldrick and Callum Robinson were the two Irish stars on the night, the two front men working ceaselessly to find openings.

But they could never quite finish them off or get a team-mate to do so as the visitors to the Aviva Stadium threw their bodies in Ireland's way.

Robinson flashed a first half shot inches beyond the post and McGoldrick hit the post in the second half. But the goals that a poor crowd had come to see never materialised.

Manager Mick McCarthy said before the game that he would take a scrappy 1-0 win, but even he would not have expected this to happen.

Ireland simply couldn't find the flair to deal with a team that lined up 5-4-1 and invited their hosts to come at them.

At least his team kept going and pressed for the second goal right to the end. But now for Ireland comes the hard work - getting home wins against Switzerland and Denmark to maintain their advantage.

When those two teams sit down to watch the DVD of this, they will both fancy their chances of taking a point, or all three, from Dublin.

We still have a lot of work to do before Irish football can dream of two home matches at next summer's Euros.

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