Irish 2010 World Cup Qualification Campaign – Group 8
The Republic of Ireland soccer team was drawn in World Cup Group 8 that also included Italy, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Montenegro and Georgia. The first match on the 6th September 2008 in World Cup Group 8 marked Giovanni Trapattoni’s first competitive football match in charge of the Republic of Ireland. Trapattoni had replaced Stephen Staunton as Irish manager. The following is a brief summary of the results of the Irish football matches in Group 8 qualifiers.
Georgia V Republic of Ireland – 6 September 2008
The Irish away match against Georgia was played in Mainz, in Germany, due to the conflict with Russia over the breakaway South Ossetia at the time. This was unfortunate for the Georgians and handed the Irish team a significant advantage. Ireland were more convincing winners than the 1-2 score line suggests. A Kevin Doyle header in the 13th minute gave the Republic a 0-1 lead.
Georgia did have their chances however the result was put beyond doubt when a Glenn Whelan shot from 35 yards out squeezed through the Georgia keepers grasp. A last minute consolation goal by Kenia for Georgia was too little too late. The Republic of Ireland’s World Cup campaign under Giovanni Trapattoni was off to a good start.
Montenegro V Ireland – 10 Sep 2008
Trapattoni maintained his unbeaten record as manager of Ireland when his team secured a 0-0 draw away to Montenegro. The Irish had targeted this match as a possible away win but, as they had proved in their home match against the Bulgarians four days earlier, Montenegro would be no push over. Perhaps Ireland’s best chance fell to Aidan McGeady who shot wide when he should have hit the target. Shay Given saved Irish blushes with a great finger tip save in the 78th minute.
Ireland V Cyprus – 15 Oct 2008
Trapattoni’s first home match as Irish manager was on 15th October 2008 in Croke Park. Bad results against Cyprus had led to Steve Staunton’s downfall however the wily Italian veteran ensured that there would be no repeat on this occasion. Ireland got off to the perfect start when Robbie Keane stooped to head in a Damien Duff cross after just five minutes. It was a somewhat edgy performance by the Irish and Shay Given was called into action late on to ensure that Ireland secured the three points.
Ireland V Georgia – 11 Feb 2009
In the return soccer match against Georgia the Republic got off to the worst possible start by conceding a goal in the first minute of the match. Keith Andrews appeared to have a legitimate goal ruled out for offside in the first half. It took until the 74 minutes on the clock for Ireland to establish parity through a Robbie Keane penalty. The Irish captain came to rescue again as he headed the winning goal in the 79th minute. It hadn’t been easy but another three points had been bagged.
Republic of Ireland V Bulgaria – 28 March 2009
Ireland missed a great opportunity to put serious daylight between the team and Bulgaria. Richard Dunne headed home after just one minute to give the Irish soccer fans at Croke Park something to cheer. The Bulgarians played well and pushed hard for an equaliser. Having had some chances the Bulgarian equaliser was somewhat fortuitous as a Petrov shot ricocheted of an unlucky Kevin Kilbane into the Irish goal. This left the Republic unbeaten in World Cup 2010 Group 8 but with a serious challenge away to Italy up next.
Italy V Republic of Ireland – 01 April 2009
The drama continued as Giovanni Trapattoni as the Italian returned to his native country. Yet again in this World Cup Group there was an early goal. Following an unlucky sending off of Pazzini in the third minute the Italians took the lead in the 11th minute though Iaquinta. After that it was left to the Irish to chase the match against a dogged and resolute Italian rearguard effort. Yet again Robbie Keane came to the rescue of the Republic of Ireland when he fired home an equaliser with just three minutes left on the clock. Glenn Whelan almost nicked victory at the death with a deflected shot however the Irish had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Bulgaria V Republic of Ireland – 06 June 2009
On a balmy night in Sofia the Republic of Ireland soccer team played out yet another 1-1 draw in Group 8 of the 2010 World Cup qualification campaign. Again Richard Dunne and Kevin Kilbane were key protagonists in a match against Bulgaria. In what was one of his greatest performances for the national team Dunne scored a towering header in the twenty-fifth minute. Not only that but he made a number of crucial interventions in defence that helped Ireland secure a draw in the Bulgarian capital. As in the home match at Croke Park Kevin Kilbane was heavily involved in the Bulgarian equaliser. His poor positional sense allowed Telkiyski in to score the Bulgarian equaliser five minutes after Richard Dunne had given the Irish the lead.
Cyprus V Republic of Ireland – 05 September 2009
In a poor match Ireland ground out a satisfactory result with a less-than-satisfactory performance. After getting off to the best possible start through a very good finish from Kevin Doyle in the 5th minute, the match settled into a dour pattern-less affair. As with most other matches in World Cup qualification group 8 Shay Given pulled off a magnificent save, denying the Cypriots a quick equaliser.
An equaliser did come on the half hour when Elia drove home for the hosts. Just as the game appeared to be limping to a tame draw the Duff-Keane combination came up with a bit of magic to earn the Irish a precious away win. With just seven minutes left Damien Duff crossed from the right wing for Robbie Keane to power his header past the advancing Cypriot goalkeeper.
Republic of Ireland V Italy – 10 October 2009
The second last World Cup qualification for Ireland against World champions Italy took an added twist as word came through that Cyprus had beaten Bulgaria. All Ireland needed was a single point to guarantee second place in the group. A point also guaranteed Italy top spot in the group. A win by the Irish would have left the, somewhat slim, chance of Ireland topping the group a possibility. And a win looked distinctly possible when Ireland snatched a 2-1 lead over the Italians with a couple of minutes left on the clock. Unfortunately for Giovanni Trapattoni’s Irish team yet again the boys in green conceded an equaliser to give the Italians the point that they needed to win the group.
Ireland got off to a great start when Glenn Whelan scored a sensational goal in the eight minute. His Stoke City colleague Liam Lawrence cleverly pulled a free kick back to Whelan from the right wing and the midfielder struck the ball beautifully from twenty yards. Buffon had no chance as the balled sailed past him into the top left corner of the goal. Poor marking for a corner kick allowed Camoranesi to score a headed equaliser in the 27th minute. It had been coming as the Irish conceded more and more possession and territory to Italy. The match looked to be heading for yet another 1-1 draw in this World Cup 2010 group until a free kick by Stephen Hunt was met at the far post by a diving Sean St Leger for Ireland take the lead again in the 88th minute. Alas for the Irish soccer team and fans more sloppy defending gifted the Italians a second equaliser at the death. Gilardino’s scuffed shot wrong-footed Shay Given thus giving the Italians the point that they needed to win World Cup Group 8.
Republic of Ireland V Montenegro – 14 October 2009
In a match that marked the occasion of, not one, but two Irish soccer players earning their 100th international caps Ireland played out a sterile scoreless draw with Montenegro. Shay Given and Kevin Kilbane reached this milestone in the last World Cup 2010 Group 8 match in which there was little to play for except pride and World rankings. The backdrop to the match included a comment by Ireland’s Stephen Hunt that Eamon Dunphy was a “skinny little rat” because of the comments by the RTE soccer pundit after the previous draw with Italy.
As it turned out Stephen Hunt was Ireland’s best player in a poor match and this was duly recognised by Dunphy in his post-match analysis. Ireland’s best chance came when Richard Dunne rose above his two taller markers to smash a header off the cross bar. Prior to this Montenegro’s Branko Boskovic rose unmarked in front of the Irish goal but sent his powerful header wide when it seemed easier to hit the target. Aside from this there was little else notable about the match except that it was the first time in almost 30 years that two brothers started a full Irish international match. Stephen Hunt and Noel Hunt became the first pair of brothers to start for Ireland since David O’Leary and Pierce O’Leary – who played for Ireland together on four occasions.
Republic of Ireland V France – 14 November 2009
By common consensus it was agreed that it was imperative that the Irish team kept a clean sheet thereby denying the French the advantage of an away goal. Unfortunately a deflected shot from Nicolas Anelka in the 73rd minute gave France a 1-0 victory over the brave Irish. It was a cruel blow for Ireland especially as the team had acquitted itself very well in the first half at Croke Park. The effort of limiting the French to minimal scoring opportunities took its toll on the tiring Irish team in the second half. The superior skill of the French came to the fore as the match wore on.
It was particularly hard on Sean St Ledger that Anelka’s shot came off him as he had hardly put a foot wrong up to that point. Ireland did have a few chances, particularly a close range effort by Liam Lawrence in the first half that was deflected wide by Patrice Evra. Despite the introduction of Leon Best, Aidan McGeady and Stephen Hunt the Irish could not secure the equaliser and at the final whistle the French celebrated as though they had already qualified for the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa.
France V Republic of Ireland – 18 November 2009
Thierry Henry lent France a hand and crushed Irish World Cup hopes. An extra time goal by William Gallas meant that France, and not Ireland, qualified for South Africa in 2010. The fact that the goal assist by Henry included two hand ball offences that were missed by the referee and linesman made it a bitter pill to swallow for the Irish players and fans. It was also difficult to accept as the performance in Paris was the best from the Irish in the whole qualifying campaign. The Irish began with serious intent and played the match further up the pitch and with support from midfield more evident than in previous matches. Even though the personnel were the same as the first leg the performance was far superior. It was not a surprise when Robbie Keane scored his 41st Irish goal after 33 minutes following excellent work down the flank by Kevin Kilbane and Damien Duff. At this point the the tie was level at 1-1 and the French away goal had been cancelled out. In the entire first half the French did not manage one meaningful shot on goal.
Early in the second half John O’Shea of Manchester United spurned a fantastic opportunity to take the lead in the tie when, unmarked, he shot over the bar. Robbie Keane and Damien Duff also had good opportunities to put the tie beyond the French in the 90 minutes. The French acquitted themselves better in the second half but the Irish remained composed and looked undaunted by the prospect of extra time. The outcome of the two play-off matches turned on some of the poorest refereeing seen in the entire qualification campaign. Firstly the match officials missed a clear offside in the Irish penalty as the French took a free kick late in the first half of extra time. Paul McShane allowed Thierry Henry get ahead of him on the by-line and as the ball reached the great French forward he first stopped the ball from going wide with his hand. Then he blatantly used his hand to tee the ball up for him to cross accurately for William Gallas to nod home close range after 103 minutes. Try as they might the magnificent Irish could not eke out another goal that would have led to Irish qualification for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
World Cup 2010 Qualifying Campaign Results
Irish World Cup Qualifying Group Results
Number of Appearances and Goals Scored in Irish World Cup Qualifying Campaigns
Irish European Championship Qualifying Group Results
Number of Appearances and Goals Scored in Irish Euro Championship Finals Qualifying Campaigns