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Irish Football > Republic of Ireland Qualifying Campaigns > 1990 World Cup

Irish 1990 World Cup Qualifying Campaign

The Republic of Ireland soccer team was drawn in World Cup Group 6 that also included Spain, Hungary, Northern Ireland, and Malta. The group winner and the runner-up would automatically qualify for the finals in Italy in 1990. After Ireland qualified for the Euro 88 finals with Jack Charlton as manager in Germany Irish soccer fans were optimistic the the Republic could qualify for the World Cup Finals for the first time ever.

Poor Start to 1990 World Cup Qualification Campaign

The Irish football team got off to a poor start to the campaign with a 0-0 draw in Belfast against Northern Ireland. In a sterile match scoring opportunities were scarce. Ireland followed this up with a trip to Seville in November 1988. The Irish were well beaten by Spain with a goal each from Manolo and Butragueno (the vulture). In March 1989 the Republic's footballers were on their travels again.

A trip to Budapest to play Hungary yielded a point from a 0-0 draw with the Magyars. Three matches played, two draws, one loss, no wins, no goals scored and two conceded. The only positive to take from this start was that Ireland had no further significant away matches to come.

Qualification for the 1990 World Cup Finals would come down to the team's performances at Lansdowne Road (now the Aviva Stadium).

Four Home Matches in a Row

In the first of four successive Ireland played host to the much-fancied Spanish. The Irish adopted a high tempo pressing game that upset the rhythm of the Spaniards. The impressive Irish forced an own goal from Michel in the 16th minute from a Ronnie Whelan cross-cum-shot. The Spanish couldn't muster an equaliser and the Republic took a deserved three points from the soccer match. At last the Irish had a win but still no Irish player had scored in the Group 6 qualifiers.

Next up was Malta and an opportunity to register a few goals. The well organised Maltese were well organised and were no pushovers. A Ray Houghton goal in the first half and a goal from Kevin Moran in the 55th minute secured the win for the Republic. On the 4th of June 1988 Hungary played Ireland at Lansdowne Road in a match yielded another 2-0 win and another three points. Paul McGrath and Tony Cascarino were the goal scorers.

In the final home match of the Irish 1990 World Cup qualifiers Ireland comprehensively beat near-neighbours Northern Ireland 3-0. Ronnie Whelan scored a goal in the first half while Ray Houghton and Tony Cascarino (both of whom qualified to play for Ireland via the Granny Rule) scored a goal each early in the second half to put the result of this football match beyond doubt.

Republic of Ireland Qualifies for 1990 World Cup Finals

Going into the last set of Group 6 qualifying matches Ireland needed to win away to Malta to make sure of qualification for the World Cup Finals in Italy. A draw would have been enough if Spain beat Hungary but to be sure the Irish needed to go for the win.

In the Maltese capital Ireland earned a relatively comfortable 2-0 win with a John Aldridge goal in each half. His first goals of the campaign. As it turned out Spain had a comfortable 4-0 win at home to Hungary so even if the Irish had lost in Malta they would have qualified.

After a less-than-impressive start to the group Ireland qualified for the 1990 World Cup Finals conceding only two goals, and only conceding in one match (against Spain) out of eight.

Irish World Cup 1990 Qualifying Campaign - Group Table

World Cup 1990 - Qualifying Group 6

Goals F
Goals A
Northern Ireland

Republic of Ireland World Cup 1990 Qualifying Campaign - Match Results

21/05/88: Belfast: Northern Ireland 3-0 Malta

14/09/88: Belfast: Northern Ireland 0-0 Ireland

19/10/88: Budapest: Hungary 1-0 Northern Ireland

16/11/88: Seville: Spain 2-0 Ireland
Manolo 52, Butragueno 66

11/12/88: Valletta: Malta 2-2 Hungary

21/12/88: Seville: Spain 4-0 Northern Ireland

22/01/89: Valletta: Malta 0-2 Spain

08/02/89: Belfast: Northern Ireland 0-2 Spain

08/03/89: Budapest: Hungary 0-0 Ireland

23/03/89: Seville: Spain 4-0 Malta

12/04/89: Budapest: Hungary 1-1 Malta

26/04/89: Valletta: Malta 0-2 Northern Ireland
26/04/89: Lansdowne Road, Dublin: Ireland 1-0 Spain
Michel (og) 16

28/05/89: Lansdowne Road, Dublin: Ireland 2-0 Malta
Ray Houghton 32, Kevin Moran 55

04/06/89: Lansdowne Road, Dublin: Ireland 2-0 Hungary

Paul McGrath 34, Tony Cascarino 80

06/09/89: Belfast: Northern Ireland 1-2 Hungary

11/10/89: Lansdowne Road, Dublin:
Ireland 3-0 Northern Ireland

Ronnie Whelan 43, Tony Cascarino 47, Ray Houghton 57

11/10/89: Budapest: Hungary 2-2 Spain

15/11/89: Seville: Spain 4-0 Hungary
15/11/89: Valletta: Malta 0-2 Ireland
John Aldridge 30, 68 Pen

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