13.10.2007 at 19:45 Croke Park
Republic of Ireland
0 - 0
Referee: Mr. M. Hansson (Sweden)
European Cup Qualifier / PROG-match
Saturday 13 October
Republic of Ireland 0 – 0 Germany
Germany have never failed to finish top of their qualifying group in the UEFA Championships and the point they gained from last night’s contest at Croke Park kept their plans right on schedule.
At attendance of 67,495 spectators enjoyed a bright and open contest, one in which both teams spurned chances of winning all three points. And it was not without significance that it was Ireland who were pushing hard for a winning goal in the added time as their fans roared them on.
The second half of the match was especially full of spirited, attacking football from Ireland. They hit a pleasing rhythm in their play that was largely facilitated by the imaginative performance in central midfield from Andy Reid.
Andy Keogh, wide right, and Kevin Kilbane, breaking left, provided width to the Irish attack and with Kevin Doyle dovetailing effectively with Robbie Keane at centre-forward, there was rich promise in Ireland’s every attacking move.
They set up match-winning chances too and were close to goals several times – as when Lee Carsley’s cross from the right was touched over at the last moment by the alert Jens Lehmann in the 49th minute.
Joey O’Brien reflected the ambition coursing through Irish veins as he challenged hard for every corner kick in Germany’s penalty box and the pressure Ireland applied in the ten minutes at the start of the second half should have yielded a precious goal in the 50th minute.
Keane broke clear when Stephen Kelly, on half-way, caught the German defence trying desperately to break out of their penalty area, headed the ball over the top. Keane was clear and as Lehmann advanced he attempted to lob the goalkeeper. His effort was weak and Lehmann was able to turn and catch the ball before it hopped over the goal-line.
This was the nearest Ireland came to a goal in the middle of their best period and more than cancelled Germany’s best effort which came in the 37th minute. Then a header from Metzelder from a corner by Trochowski was headed off the goal-line by Steve Finnan.
Ireland were forced to go into the game with an experimental defence following the withdrawal of John O’Shea because of injury. And with manager Stephen Staunton producing another surprise with his selection of Andy Keogh on the right of midfield, there were many reasons why Ireland could feel encouraged by this performance.
Keogh was outstanding, his confidence on the ball was a huge encouragement. His work in defence was of considerable help to Steve Finnan.
Stephen Kelly at left-back and Joey O’Brien alongside Richard Dunne at centre-back also came through a challenging assignment with distinction. The dependable work of Ireland’s more senior players ensured that there was always a need for Germany to tread warily through a fascinating contest.
The downside of an evening when Shane Long, Aiden McGeady and Daryl Murphy came in to emphasise the progress that has been made by Ireland’s younger players was the yellow card bookings of Richard Dunne and Lee Carsley. Both will miss next Wednesday’s match against Cyprus as a result.
The teams were:
Republic of Ireland: Given; Finnan, Joey O’Brien, Dunne, Stephen Kelly; Keogh, (McGeady 80), Carsley, Andy Reid, Kilbane, (Murphy, Sunderland 90); Doyle, (Long, 70), Keane.
Germany: Lehmann; Arne Friedrich, Metzelder, Mertesacker, Jansen; Fritz, Frings, Schweinsteiger, (Rolfes 18), Trochowski, (Castro 90); Mario Gomez, (Podolski 64), Kevin Kuranyi,.