The European media appear to have been charmed by the Irish fans over the last few weeks. After Robbie Brady’s heroics against the Italians, it seems the team is now doing the same.
French sports daily L’Equipe featured the Irish performance on their cover with the headline: “Let the festival continue.”
It even referenced the now infamous Thierry Henry handball incident but seems pretty pleased that we are staying for another few days at a minimum.
“The ghosts of the 2009 dam will resurface... If one of the two Irelands had not qualified, we would surely have sought permission to borrow their supporters. Let us love them a little longer,” it read.
The Guardian labelled the game one that called for “quality, cohesion, and courage” and that Ireland “were not found wanting”. It even suggested the match may have been Ireland’s finest victory ever.
“Ireland grabbed the tie by the scruff of the neck from the first whistle.
“They turned the pressure that they might have felt into an opportunity to be seized. They had heroes in all areas — from front to back — and it was Brady who commandeered the headlines.”
The Guardian also couldn’t resist casting an eye ahead to Sunday’s showdown with France. “Everybody knows what happened when Ireland last played France on French soil. It was the 2010 World Cup play-off, second leg in Paris and it was the night when Thierry Henry’s handball helped France to the finals in South Africa. Ireland now have a shot at revenge.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Italian press was a little more mixed. La Repubblica called for “the same determination shown by O’Neill’s men” from their own team when they face Spain.
Corriere della Sera said the Irish players celebrated like they had won the tournament and “perhaps it is as well as they enter the last 16 to face France”.
Well, we’ll see on Sunday.