May 25, 2024

Ireland V Romania at World Cup 1990 – Match Report

packie-bonnerPackie Bonner’s Penalty
Save From Timoftei

In their first World Cup finals the Irish had progressed into the knockout stages from Group F at Italia 90 without winning a game. Courtesy of three draws with England, Egypt, and Holland, and the lottery of drawn lots Ireland lined up to play Romania in the last 16 of the World Cup. The date was the 25th of June 1990 and the venue was Stadio Luigi Farraris.

While Ireland had avoided the mighty West Germans the match against the technically gifted Romanians, including talismanic Gheorghe Hagi, would prove to be anything but easy. The Irish team employed the tried and trusted Jack Charlton style of football throughout the match by bombarding the Romanian defence with long balls.

During normal playing time the Irish could not make the breakthrough and in reality the Romanians came closest to breaking the deadlock through the ever-dangerous Hagi.

The 90 minutes ended in a 0-0 stalemate and a further half hour of football beckoned. Yet again neither side could find the elusive winning goal and the Irish players now faced into their first ever penalty shoot-out at a major football championship.

Ireland Win Penalty Shoot-Out Against Romania at Italia 90

It subsequently emerged that the Irish were not prepared for the eventuality of a penalty shoot-out and it had not been determined in advance who would take the penalties.

Gheorghe Hagi took the first penalty and duly dispatched it despite Bonner diving the right way and almost getting a hand to the ball. Kevin Sheedy was the first Irish penalty taker and he smashed it down the middle of the goal as Romanian keeper Silviu Lung dived to his left. Each of the following six penalties were successfully converted although Ireland were lucky with the fourth penalty.

Big forward Tony Cascarino slightly scuffed his shot along the ground almost straight at Lung who really should have saved the shot. The last penalty for Romania was taken by Daniel Timofte, of Dynamo Bucharest, who had only come on as an extra time substitute. As he was

lining to take the penalty Irish goalkeeper Packie Bonner was cursing his luck. He had come very close to saving Romania’s previous penalty from Lupescu and he had guessed the right way for every penalty so far. Timofte took a short run up and drove the ball to Bonner’s right. Unfortunately for the Romanian he hit the ball too close to the Donegalman who dived the right way yet again pulling off a vital and historic save.

A Nation Breathes a Sigh of Relief and Joy

david-o-learyDavid O’Leary Celebrates
Scoring the Winning
Penalty Against Romania

To the dismay of a nation veteran centre-half David O’Leary stepped forward to take the final Irish penalty. O’Leary had previously experienced some difficulties with the Irish football manager, Jack Charlton, when he refused to break off from his family holiday after he was a late call-up for a minor tournament in Iceland in 1986. He hadn’t featured in any of the earlier group matches at Italia 90 and had only come on as an extra-time substitute for Steve Staunton. No-one could remember O’Leary ever taking a competitive penalty in the past and now, after just 25 minutes pitch time at Italia 90, the hopes of Charlton, his team mates, and every Irish football fan rested on his shoulders.

O’Leary seemed to take an age to place the ball on the penalty spot, including the referee insisting that he re-spot the ball, adding further to the almost unbearable tension. The RTE Football commentator famously quipped ‘The nation holds it’s breath’ as O’Leary took his run up. He struck the ball with his instep to Lung’s left as the hapless goalkeeper went to his right. The back of the Romanian net bulged leading to frenzied celebrations amongst the Irish squad, the Irish fans in the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, and all Irish sports fans across the Globe. On the occasion of his 52nd international cap David O’Leary sent Ireland on their way to Rome for a quarterfinal showdown with World Cup hosts Italy.

Quotes by Heroes Bonner & O’Leary

“Every day, I have people coming up to me to talk about it and thank me. It really wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that that one save changed my life forever, certainly in terms of recognition”
“I always thought I’d love to test myself in a situation like taking the last put in a major. To see if you could do it on your own without your team mates … There was an explosion of green … the biggest mistake was standing still, I nearly got killed by all my team mates.”


The Irish would play in a World Cup quarterfinal in their first appearance at the finals. This was despite not winning any of the four previous matches in regulation time and scoring just two goals en route.

Team Line Ups

Republic of Ireland: Packie Bonner, Chris Morris, Steve Staunton, Mick McCarthy (capt), Kevin Moran, Paul McGrath, Ray Houghton, Kevin Sheedy (Ronnie Whelan 63′), Andy Townsend, John Aldridge (Tony Cascarino 63′), Niall Quinn.
Irish Football Manager: Jack Charlton Goals: None Booked: Aldridge 17′, McGrath 108′

Romania: Silviu Lung (capt) , Mircea Rednic, Michael Klein, Ion Andone, Gheorge Popescu, Iosif Rotariu, Ioan Ovidiu Sabau (96 Daniel Timofte), Gheorge Hagi, Ioan Lupescu, Florian Raducioiu (76 Danut Lupu), Gavrila Balint
Romainan Football Manager: Emerich Jenei Goals: None Booked: Hagi 111′, Lupu 114′

Venue: Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, Date: 25th June 1990 Attendance: 31, 818 Referee: Jose Ramiz Wright from Brazil

Result: Ireland 0 – 0 Romania (a.e.t.) / Ireland won 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out

Ireland V Romania Penalty Shoot-out Details:

Goal 0-1 Gheorghe Hagi (ROM)
Goal 1-1 Kevin Sheedy (IRE)
Goal 1-2 Danut Lupu (ROM)
Goal 2-2 Ray Houghton (IRE)
Goal 2-3 Iosif Rotariu (ROM)
Goal 3-3 Andy Townsend (IRE)
Goal 3-4 Ioan Lupescu (ROM)
Goal 4-4 Tony Cascarino (IRE)
Miss 4-4 Daniel Timofte (ROM)
Goal 5-4 David O’Leary (IRE)
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