David McGoldrick strikes late to earn a precious point for Republic of Ireland

Republic of Ireland's David McGoldrick rises to head home his side's equaliser against Switzerland in the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying Group D match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on Thursday September 5 2019. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire 


NOTHING in this world quite touches the Lansdowne Road roar.

In the 85th minute, the Green Army were cheering two things: David McGoldrick’s late equaliser and their new hero of this dramatic Euro 2020 qualification campaign.

McGoldrick’s brilliantly directed header seemed to take an eternity to ripple Switzerland’s net – but once the Sheffield United man connected with James McClean’s slightly deflected cross from the left flank it was always destined for one place.

The stadium erupted. And the roar was just magical.

For it looked like the Swiss were going to bank the three points after Fabian Schar’s cool finish on 74 minutes.

The Swiss looked stronger, more imposing without looking like adding to their tally. But the Irish never know when they’re beaten.

They didn’t have many shots on target in what was a generally scrappy affair in the Irish capital last night, but they only needed one – and it came from McGoldrick’s head with five minutes of normal time remaining.

The Republic’s late show keeps them firmly in the driving seat for a place at next summer’s finals with the Swiss still having a lot of ground to make up in Group D.

Unlike his predecessor Martin O’Neill, Mick McCarthy’s starting line-ups have been a little easier to predict since his first competitive outing in March, with the manager making just one change to the side that defeated Gibraltar at the end of last season.

As expected, Glenn Whelan – the most unlikely comeback man over the last 12 months – returned to Ireland’s midfield engine room with Scott Hogan returning to the bench.

After banking 10 points out of a possible 12 in the first half of their qualification campaign, September was when the gradient on Ireland’s road was meant to get steeper.

Two games against the fancied Swiss, a visit to Georgia before rounding off the campaign with a home game against Denmark.

Last night, it started with the Swiss and although the Irish produced a slightly ragged firsthalf display, the visitors flattered to deceive, especially in the final third.

Apart from one parried save from Ricardo Rodriguez’s back-post header, Darren Randolph had a comfortable opening 45 minutes.

Although Switzerland had more possession, the Irish probably went closest to breaking the deadlock.

Some excellent defending from wing-back Kevin Mbabu kept James McClean at bay in the opening 13 minutes after a fine inter-change of passes involving Callum Robinson and Jeff Hendrick on the edge of the Swiss box.

Shane Duffy may be out of favour at his club Brighton but he was razorsharp in blocking Haris Seferovic’s angled drive midway through the first half.

The standard of play was generally poor from both sides, with the home side giving away cheap possession on too many occasions, while the visitors’ shooting was woeful.

The Republic couldn’t get to grips with Switzerland’s 3-5-2 formation and in many instances their midfield was under-manned, with Conor Hourihane and Glenn Whelan trying to fight the Swiss tide.

That said, Switzerland never really troubled Randolph’s goal, hacking numerous efforts miles over his crossbar. In the second period, the Swiss could have opened their account before they did.

Enda Stevens did brilliantly to stop Embolo’s powerful run in the 53rd minute and the same player slipped when he was about to pull the trigger just after the hour mark.

Alan Judge, who entered the fray for the ineffective Robinson, showed great vigilance to deny Rodriguez at the back post and Coleman was also on his toes to clear the danger a couple of minutes later.

And just when the home crowd were pondering that perhaps the Swiss were a slightly over-rated outfit, they produced a moment of sheer brilliance.

And it took a defender to show their forwards how to finish. Fabian Schar anticipated Embolo’s cushioned lay-off and the central defender swept the ball home from 12 yards, giving Randolph no chance.

For a few minutes after Switzerland’s gut-wrenching goal, the Irish looked a spent force.

But they rallied superbly in the final 10 minutes.

Enda Stevens stuck to the process.

James McClean played the only way he knows. Whelan kept probing and thundered one effort off Switzerland’s crossbar.

Duffy put his head where many wouldn’t put their foot.

And Coleman edged into opposition territory with more urgency. With a typical warrior spirit, McClean won hard-earned possession on the left and sent in his cross.

McGoldrick was probably second favourite to get to it but his connection was perfect. Cue the Lansdowne Road roar. Georgia and Switzerland won’t be easy on the road next month – but with this kind of never-say-die spirit, who is going to deny Mick’s men?

DENMARK cemented their position in second place in Group D last night with a routine 6-0 win in Gibraltar.

Robert Skov and Christian Eriksen (penalty) gave the visitors a 2-0 halftime lead, and the Spurs man scored from the spot again early in the second half.

Thomas Delaney and Christian Gytkjaer were also on target as the Danes moved to within three points of Mick McCarthy’s side and three ahead of the Swiss.



James McClean: Republic of Ireland’s show their bottle against Switzerland 

JAMES McClean praised the “mettle” of the Republic of Ireland’s performance against Switzerland last night as they came back from a goal down to take a Euro 2020 qualifying draw at the Aviva Stadium.

David McGoldrick rescued a point in Dublin with a late header from a deflected McClean cross that hit the back of the Swiss net.

It leaves Ireland top of Group D having played five games – one more than Denmark and two more than Switzerland.

“You could say [the result was] sweet considering we were behind against a very good side, but we showed some mettle, we showed some bottle, some character and we showed them that we can play as well,” said Derryman McClean.

“They’re a very good side, their goal showed that, it was good, intricate one-touch passing and a good finish.

“But we picked ourselves up, showed them what this side’s about, like we always do and in the end, considering we were one down, you could probably say it was a point gained.”

Glenn Whelan had hit the bar with a thunderous long-range shot just moments before McGoldrick headed the equaliser and McClean said his performance was typical of the side.

“It was a great strike,” he said. “The ball went up in the air and I was thinking from where I was maybe I could get there [to the rebound], but the defender got there first.

“Glenn was excellent all night, as was everyone. As I say, it was some shift against a very good side and we showed some mettle.

“I wouldn’t say we were wobbling [after the Switzerland goal]. Of course, they put us under a bit of pressure, but I thought we stood strong to that.

“Obviously the goal, it was a good goal, they worked it well and we could have easily crumbled but we didn’t, we stood up, we were counted and we showed then too we weren’t settling for a point, the crowd was with us and we were going for that second and the win.” 



                      P W D L F A Gd Pts

Rep of Ireland 5 3 2 0 6 2 4 11

Denmark 4 2 2 0 15 5 10 8

Switzerland 3 1 2 0 6 4 2 5

Georgia 4 1 0 3 4 8 -4 3

Gibraltar 4 0 0 4 0 12 -12 0

Last night Republic of Ireland 1 Switzerland 1; Gibraltar 0 Denmark 6

Sept 8 (5pm) Switzerland v Gibraltar; Georgia v Denmark


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