The lessons we learned as Ireland grab another positive draw

Despite plenty of endeavour, Ireland’s attack lacked the requisite composure or finishing ability to adequately trouble their opponents for much of the 90 minutes.

The lessons we learned as Ireland grab another positive draw

Another positive 1-1 result

Mick McCarthy’s 4-5-1 formation placed David McGoldrick at its apex, Callum Robinson and James McClean on either flank plus Jeff Hendrick behind the hosts’ lone striker.

David McGoldrick celebrates scoring goal with Alan Judge. Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
David McGoldrick celebrates scoring goal with Alan Judge. Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Despite plenty of endeavour, Ireland’s attack lacked the requisite composure or finishing ability to adequately trouble their opponents for much of the 90 minutes.

It has been a recurring theme, Ireland producing glimpses of positive approach work but more likely to score from a set-piece routine.

So supporters could have been forgiven for expecting the worst when the Swiss grabbed a second-half lead. Things looked even bleaker when Glen Whelan’s late attempt cannoned back off the crossbar but credit David McGoldrick for continuing to push forward and score his first international goal.

Mick McCarthy stated in a pre-match press conference that he would have happily settled for a 1-1 draw. His team delivered that result and the Republic of Ireland remain in the hunt for Euro 2020 qualification. It wasn’t pretty but job done.

Unpleasant Swiss

Goalkeeper Yann Sommer branded the Republic’s style of play as ‘very unpleasant’ in the build-up to Thursday night’s qualifier. Those comments may have been lost in translation but the inference was clear, Switzerland had little fear of an Irish team they believed lacked the creativity of their previous opponents, Denmark.

Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez, Granit Xhaka and Nico Elvedi appeal for a corner. INPHO/James Crombie
Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez, Granit Xhaka and Nico Elvedi appeal for a corner. INPHO/James Crombie

Vladimir Petkovic’s side arrived in Dublin on the back of a 3-3 draw with the Danes, a game in which the Swiss threw away a 3-0 lead. At the Aviva, Switzerland’s defence showed few signs of a repeat performance as an unorthodox 3-4-2-1 setup dictated the pace and tempo for the first three-quarters of the game.

At the opposite end, the visitors proved as profligate as their opponents in front of goal until Fabian Schar found the bottom corner to push his side 1-0 ahead. Yet for the second qualifier running, Switzerland conceded late on and turned a potential victory into a frustrating draw.

An unpleasant statistic for a Switzerland side that may live to regret defensive lapses in their last two internationals.

Playing the Long game

Mick McCarthy’s squad for Thursday night’s crucial European Championship Group D qualifier began with five recognised strikers with a combined total of 0 goals and 8 senior international caps between them.

Clearly, it is early days for James Collins (Luton), David McGoldrick, Callum Robinson (both Sheffield United), Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth) and Scott Hogan (Stoke City) who need time to acclimatise to the rigours of international football.

Granted, McCarthy’s decision was vindicated when McGoldrick broke his international duck and earned his side a point by netting his first senior goal.

Yet Shane Long’s work rate, ability and 17 goals in 82 international appearances should not be ignored as Ireland head into the closing stages of their Euro 2020 programme.

Even more importantly, the Southampton striker’s experience of playing and scoring in previous qualifying campaigns means Mick McCarthy may need to turn to the 32-year-old before the year is out.

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