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McGoldrick's late leveller rescues Ireland against superior Swiss

The Sheffield United striker headed in an 85th-minute equaliser to keep Ireland undefeated in Group D.

david-mcgoldrick-celebrates-scoring-his-sides-equalising-goal David McGoldrick celebrates after equalising for Ireland. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Republic of Ireland 1
Switzerland 1

– Paul Dollery reports from Aviva Stadium

THE REPUBLIC OF Ireland kept their Euro 2020 qualifying hopes on track this evening, despite struggling to contain their Swiss opponents for large portions of the game.

Having fallen behind to a goal from Newcastle United’s Fabian Schar with just 16 minutes of normal time remaining, Ireland rescued a valuable point courtesy of David McGoldrick’s 85th-minute equaliser which keeps the Boys in Green undefeated at the top of Group D.

Switzerland, the 11th-best team in the world according to the Fifa rankings, were weakened by the absence of Liverpool attacker Xherdan Shaqiri, who opted out in order to focus on his bid to play his way into contention at Anfield. For Ireland, there were no surprises in the side selected by Mick McCarthy.

McCarthy’s only competitive loss in a home game as Ireland manager occurred here at the hands of the Swiss nearly 17 years ago. His first reign in charge was brought to an end in the aftermath of that 2-1 loss in a Euro 2004 qualifier.

It didn’t take long for Switzerland to impose themselves on the contest. A couple of vital interventions from the indispensable Shane Duffy were required to keep Vladimir Petković’s side at bay during the opening quarter.

james-mcclean-has-an-attempt-on-goal James McClean had a good chance for Ireland in the first half. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Despite failing to get his head to Kevin Mbabu’s cross from the right, Duffy recovered well to hook the ball away as Breel Embolo was primed to fire home from close range. Later, the Brighton centre-half was at full stretch to block a goalbound strike from Haris Seferović.

Darren Randolph had to be alert to clear the danger when Ricardo Rodriguez headed the ball across the face of goal. A clearing header from Duffy then dropped kindly for Rodriguez on the edge of the box, but the AC Milan player couldn’t test Randolph with his volley. 

In general, Ireland dealt relatively well with what Switzerland conjured up in the first half. While often hindered by their own wastefulness in possession, McCarthy’s side did get the home fans in the 44,111 attendance out of their seats on a few occasions.

A clever flick from Callum Robinson fell into the path of Jeff Hendrick, who then played James McClean through on goal. Credit must go to Kevin Mbabu, whose tenacious defending put McClean under pressure and restricted him to a tame strike that was easily saved by Yann Sommer.

McGoldrick was unable to inject any venom into his first shot at goal following a neat exchange of passes with Hendrick. Moments before the interval, Seamus Coleman broke at pace and released McGoldrick down the right. Robinson had made a promising run towards the far post but his Sheffield United team-mate’s attempt to find him was poorly executed.

As the Swiss upped the ante in their search for an opening goal, things began to look ominous for Ireland with an hour played. Embolo squandered a golden opportunity in front of goal by losing his footing as he pulled the trigger. After replacing Robinson, substitute Alan Judge made a goal-saving headed clearance. Coleman did likewise shortly afterwards.

glenn-whelan-and-breel-embolo Glenn Whelan and Breel Embolo battle for possession. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

However, the visitors finally had the lead their dominance deserved on 74 minutes. A slick piece of build-up play culminated with Embolo teeing up Fabian Schar, who applied a sublime first-time finish that beat Randolph to his left. But there was more drama to come.

After Glenn Whelan rattled the crossbar from 20 yards, Ireland recovered possession out on the left. McClean’s cross deflected off Granit Xhaka en route to McGoldrick, whose header beat Sommer to lift the roof off the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland, who’ll play a friendly here against Bulgaria on Tuesday night, will have to plan without Enda Stevens when Euro 2020 qualifying resumes in Georgia on 12 October, after the left-back picked up his third yellow card of the campaign.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Darren Randolph; Seamus Coleman (c), Shane Duffy, Richard Keogh, Enda Stevens; Glenn Whelan, Conor Hourihane (Scott Hogan, 82); Callum Robinson (Alan Judge, 58), Jeff Hendrick, James McClean; David McGoldrick (Alan Browne, 90).

SWITZERLAND: Yann Sommer; Nico Elvedi, Fabian Schar, Manuel Akanji; Kevin Mbabu (Edmilson Fernandes, 90), Denis Zakaria, Granit Xhaka, Remo Freuler (Admir Mehmedi, 90), Ricardo Rodriguez; Breel Embolo (Albian Ajeti, 87), Haris Seferović.

Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande (Spain).

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Paul Dollery

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