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Dublin: 7°C Saturday 26 September 2020
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Liveblog

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Hello, and welcome to this afternoon’s liveblog.

It’s been quite a journey for Jack Charlton’s side so far, but can they overcome formidable opposition in the form of Romania?

Here is Ireland line-up for today’s game:

[1] Pat BONNER (GK)[2] Chris MORRIS[3] Steve STAUNTON [4] Mick MC CARTHY[5] Kevin MORAN[7] Paul McGRATH (C)[8] Ray HOUGHTON[9] John ALDRIDGE [11] Kevin SHEEDY[13] Andy TOWNSEND[17] Niall QUINN Substitute(s)[6] Ronnie WHELAN[10] Tony CASCARINO [12] David O LEARY[14] Christopher HUGHTON[15] Bernard SLAVEN[16] John SHERIDAN[18] Frank STAPLETON[19] David KELLY[20] John BYRNE[21] Alan McLOUGHLIN[22] Gerald PEYTON

And here is how the Romania side looks:

[1] Silviu LUNG (GK)(C)[2] Mircea REDNIC[3] Michael KLEIN[4] Ioan ANDONE[5] Iosif ROTARIU[6] Gheorghe POPESCU[8] Ioan SABAU [10] Gheorghe HAGI[14] Florin RADUCIOIU [18] Gavril BALINT[21] Ioan LUPESCUSubstitute(s)[7] Marius LACATUS[9] Rodion CAMATARU[11] Danut LUPU [12] Bogdan STELEA[13] Adrian POPESCU[15] Dorin MATEUT[16] Daniel TIMOFTE [17] Ilie DUMITRESCU[19] Emil SANDOI[20] Zsolt MUZSNAI[22] Gheorghe LILIAC

And we’re underway…

It’s absolutely scorching here in Genoa.

Big Ron on co-commentary duty reckons Ireland “won’t be able to play their normal high-pressure style” on account of the weather, but says slowing the game down may “help them in a strange way”.

This Hagi lad looks pretty decent. Nothing’s been confirmed yet of course, but my sources tell me Real Madrid are keeping a close eye on the Steaua Bucureşti man.

He’s just hit a low cross for Sabau, whose shot is just wide of the post.

8 minutes played and Romania are looking dangerous, with the majority of the game being played in Ireland’s half.

That said, Ireland have also looked threatening on the counter-attack on one or two occasions.

Surely there’ll be a few goals in this one.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you’ll know that both sides made hard work of their respective progressions from the group stage.

Romania lost to Cameroon, and drew with Argentina, but did manage to beat the Soviet Union 2-0.

Ireland, meanwhile, had three draws against England, Holland and Eygpt, which were ultimately just about enough to secure qualification.

Ireland’s best chance so far was a Townsend shot from the edge of the area, after a Niall Quinn knockdown.

Meanwhile John Aldridge blatantly hacks down Hagi, injuring himself in the process, and he is then promptly replaced by Tony Cascarino.

Cliché alert! Ron Atkinson notes that Hagi goes past Chris Morris “as if he wasn’t there”.

The tricky midfielder has been the best player on the park by far.

Ron Atkinson reckons the Irish front four of Houghton, Sheedy, Cascarino and Quinn have been “a bit static”.

Niall Quinn? Static? Never.

The TV monitor has just shown a shot of Jack Charlton leaning against the dugout. He looks remarkably relaxed.

Perhaps he’s bored on account of the lack of goalmouth action so far.

Mick McCarthy looks shattered already. Someone needs to get that man a bottle of water, pronto!

Best chance of the game so far falls to Sheedy. An excellent cross from McGrath is headed down by Quinn, but the Everton man’s sliding shot is smothered by the Romania goalkeeper.

Shortly afterwards, a Houghton cross is headed narrowly wide by big Niall Quinn. The Man City man will probably feel he should’ve hit the target there.

HALF-TIME: IRELAND 0-0 ROMANIA

So an intriguing first-half then. Romania dominated the opening exchanges, with Gheorghe Hagi, in particular, looking threatening.

However, Ireland showed their customary ‘fighting spirit’ to fight back, and ended the half the stronger of the two teams.

I’m off to get a cuppa before the second half begins…

It’s competition time and two T-shirts resembling the image below are up for grabs. All you need to do is email your answer to paul@thescore.ie to be in with a chance of winning.

The question is as follows: In Ireland’s last group game against Holland, who scored the all-important equaliser?

a) Kevin Sheedy

b) Niall Quinn

c) Tony Cascarino

d) Eamon Dunphy

I’ll give you a clue: it’s not d).

The second half is underway…

On a personal note, I’d just like to mention that it’s my birthday today. That, and the fact that I’m an incredibly prodigious three-year-old.

Unsurprisingly, Ireland are well ahead (12-4) on the fouls count.

Meanwhile, commentator Alan Parry makes the understatement of the year, saying Jack Charlton’s side “like to hump it forward”.

Ireland go agonisingly close, as Cascarino heads a pinpoint Quinn cross inches over. Parry suggests “a couple of pints of Guinness will have been spilled at that moment”.

Let’s see how many other cultural stereotypes he can shoehorn into his commentary.

“Hagi is a definite threat,” points out Big Ron for the umpteenth occasion, as the little man goes close with another decent shot from distance.

Mick McCarthy (or ‘Mike,’ as the Canadian TV host refers to him as) has been truly outstanding in defence, consummately clearing every ball that comes his way and fouling Hagi innocuously when necessary.

In addition, Big Ron contemplates whether Romania have enough “passion for the battle”.

A short corner falls to Raducioiu, whose powerful first-time shot is well parried away by Pat Bonner.

He still hasn’t had to make “a real goalkeeper’s save so far at this tournament” according to Ron Atkinson.

However, something tells me he’ll change his assessment after seeing him fully stretched to stop another powerful Hagi shot from the edge of the box.

In case you haven’t been paying attention to the charts lately, and if you’re bored by this less-than-thrilling spectacle, here’s the current US number 1:


YouTube credit:

Also, YouTube’s been invented.

Deep cross into Quinn, and it’s just a tad too high, as the Ireland striker can only head it wide. The goalkeeper Lung looked very dodgy there – he came for that cross but was ultimately nowhere near it.

Meanwhile, Mick McCarthy has just committed approximately his 700th foul on Hagi.

FULL TIME: IRELAND 0-0 ROMANIA (EXTRA TIME TO BE PLAYED)

Well, who would have guessed it? 90 minutes have not been enough to separate these two teams.

Both teams had their moments over the course of normal time, though the Irish side seem to be getting stronger as the game progresses.

Meanwhile, the wise old sage that is Ron Atkinson reckons Romania no longer pose much of a threat in attack.

I should add that the deadline for our competition is after extra-time and penalties (should it come to that), so get your answers in asap.

While we await the beginning of extra time, here’s a quick poll:

Who’s been your man of the match so far?


Poll Results:

Paul McGrath (47)
Gheorghe Hagi (29)
Mick McCarthy (26)
Packie Bonner (24)




And extra-time is underway…

Just a reminder that there’ll be no golden or silver goals, as they haven’t been invented yet.

Young Steve Staunton has just curled a free-kick narrowly wide. What a promising future that lad seems to have in front of him.

Down the other end, Hagi and Bonner’s private duel continues, with the former’s shot from about 25 yards out being parried away by the latter.

Dave O’Leary comes on to slot in at left-back for Steve Staunton.

Ron Atkinson “can’t see the logic in that”. Oh well, I’m sure Jack Charlton has a good reason for bringing the Arsenal man on.

Romania are coming back into this game, as a dangerous cross from Klein is desperately cleared away for a corner.

Timofte has entered the action for Romania by the way. I’m sure that won’t be in anyway relevant, but thought I’d mention it nonetheless.

Timofte’s cross is headed narrowly wide by Andone from close range.

Ireland look extremely tired at the moment, as reflected by Chris Morris collapsing to the ground in what seems to be a case of cramp.

HALF-TIME: IRELAND 0-0 ROMANIA

We’re back underway here…

I should mention that tonight’s episode of Twin Peaks will be shown later than usual as a result of the extra time being played here.

The game is currently being played at close to walking pace. Does a penalty shootout beckon?

On the subject of penalties, the always compelling Ron Atkinson has offered another nugget of wisdom: he reckons “you get the feeling that the Romanians are better at it than the British type of player”.

This second half really has been devoid of any chances whatsoever. Something tells me the Irish lads are pretty happy to settle for penalties – they look like they’ve just gone ten rounds with controversial heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson.

Paul McGrath has just blatantly elbowed Hagi off the ball. But the referee lets him away with it, since that type of violent behaviour has always been commonplace in the working class sport of football.

FULL TIME: IRELAND 0-0 ROMANIA

After no goals in 120 minutes of football, this game will now be decided on by the dreaded penalty kicks. *wipes sweat from forehead*

Hagi coolly scores the first penalty, hammering it into the roof of the net.

If ever you want to see a lesson in how to take a penalty, check out the one Kevin Sheedy’s just scored. Emphatic, to say the least.

Lupu slots it into the corner, with Bonner standing still. Three excellent penalties so far.

Houghton hits a slightly dodgy penalty, but thankfully the goalkeeper goes the wrong way.

Rotariu finds the top corner, before Townsend coolly sends the goalkeeper the wrong way, giving a cheeky smile as he does so.

Bonner gets a hand to Lupescu’s penalty, but can’t keep it out, before a petrified-looking Cascarino hammers it unconvincingly into the net. Apparently, “the Irish lads are laughing their heads off,” according to Big Ron.

Timofte against Bonner…

AND HE’S SAVED IT!

The prodigal son, Dave O’Leary, has just sent Ireland into the quarter-finals, with the decisive penalty.

Get in there!

The Irish players, and Bonner in particualar, are jubilant.

Here’s a shot of what is destined to become a famous moment in Irish sport:

And here’s one more look at those penalties, which have been uploaded with remarkable speed:


YouTube credit:

Alright, that’s it from me. Thanks for reading and commenting.

I think I speak for everyone at TheScore.ie in wishing Ireland the best of luck in the quarter-final against Italy.

PS I can also totally foresee this victory inspiring an economic boom in this country.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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