Sunday 22 September 2019

Play-offs: How we fared in previous second legs


Jonathan Walters. Photo: Sportsfile
Jonathan Walters. Photo: Sportsfile

Colin Young

1998 World Cup - October 29, 1997: Ireland 1 Belgium 1; November 15: Belgium 2 Ireland 1

The Euro '96 play-off, a resounding defeat to Holland at Anfield in Jack Charlton's final game in charge, was the last single-game knock-out and the format changed to home and away legs. Ireland qualified for the play-offs in Mick McCarthy's first campaign after finishing second to a Gheorghe Hagi-inspired Romania.

Roy Keane was absent due to the cruciate injury sustained in that incident with Alf-Inge Haaland. His Manchester United team-mate Denis Irwin gave Ireland an early lead from a free-kick in the first leg, which was cancelled out by Luc Nilis, giving Belgium a deserved draw and an away goal.

Ireland levelled matters in the Heysel Stadium with Ray Houghton's equaliser to Luis Oliveira's early opener. Belgium took the lead in controversial circumstances with 20 minutes remaining when Austrian referee Gunter Beko over-ruled his linesman and awarded the home side a throw-in. The Irish defence was caught off guard, leaving Nilis unmarked as he scored the winner past Shay Given. McCarthy was livid, his mood, not helped by David Connolly's late dismissal.

2000 Euros - November 13, 1999: Ireland 1 Turkey 1; November 17: Turkey 0 Ireland 0

McCarthy faced a second play-off thanks to Goran Stavrevski's late goal in Macedonia and were always up against it travelling to Turkey for the second leg. Tayfur Havutcu's penalty four minutes from time cancelled out Robbie Keane's goal, giving Turkey the vital away goal.

After a day of planes, buses and boats to get to Bursa, injury-hit Ireland endured a hostile night memorable for Dean Kiely's heroics. They could not break down a stubborn Turkish side and the game ended in shambolic scenes when Tony Cascarino was attacked and sent off on the final whistle. Riot police had to escort the Irish players down the tunnel.

2002 World Cup - November 10, 2001: Ireland 2 Iran 0; November 15: Iran 1 Ireland 0

Third time lucky for McCarthy whose side faced the winners of the Asia play-off, Iran. The work was done in the first leg with goals from Ian Harte and Robbie Keane, although it was two world-class saves from Shay Given which proved even more decisive.

They secured their place at the World Cup with a near-perfect defensive performance, without Roy Keane, with Given in brilliant form once again, conceding only in the last minute to Yahya Golmohammadi.

2010 World Cup - November 14, 2009: Ireland 0 France 1; November 18: France 1 Ireland 1

A second leg that needs no introduction. Seeded France had a deflected Nicolas Anelka away goal going into the game in Paris. Ireland, unbeaten and runners-up to Italy in qualifying, came close in a tense game in Croke Park, but just not close enough.

Everything was much-changed in the Stade de France, where an attacking Irish team went ahead through a Robbie Keane strike in the 33rd minute. Ireland ultimately ended up taking the game into extra-time where Martin Hansson missed Thierry Henry's handball, William Gallas didn't miss his cross.

2012 Euros - November 11, 2011: Estonia 0 Ireland 4; November 15: Ireland 1 Estonia 1

Giovanni Trapattoni's side clinched their place in Poland with a convincing win in Tallinn. Keith Andrews put them in front and the hosts were reduced to nine men. Robbie Keane scored two and Jonathan Walters completed a very satisfactory night.

Stephen Ward scored after 30 minutes in the home leg but Estonia equalised through Konstantin Vassiljev.

2016 Euros - November 13, 2015: Bosnia & Herzegovina 1 Ireland 1; November 16: Ireland 2 Bosnia & Herzegovina 0

Defeat in the final game against Poland meant third place behind them and Germany, and Martin O'Neill's play-off debut. Thick fog descended during half-time in Zenica and the game was a farcical spectacle until Robbie Brady scored seven minutes from the end to give Ireland an away goal. Edin Dzeko scored for the home team three minutes later.

A first half penalty from Walters calmed the nerves in the Aviva and when the then-Stoke striker grabbed a second in the 70th minute, Bosnia & Herzegovina virtually gave up and the preparations for France began.

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