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Dublin: 14 °C Saturday 24 August, 2019
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Memory lane: here's what happened the last 5 times Ireland met Spain

It’s 23 years since Ireland last beat Spain. Relive that Dublin afternoon and some other recent encounters between the two countries in our video retrospective.

Spain 2-0 Republic of Ireland (WC Qualifier, 16 November 1988)

YouTube Credit: sp1873

AFTER A DISAPPOINTING 0-0 draw against Northern Ireland in Windsor Park, the Republic of Ireland’s next step on the road to Italia 90 was an unenviable trip to Seville. It was the first competitive fixture between the countries since the qualification campaign for France 84 and Jack Charlton was without a host of his first team including Chris Hughton, Paul McGrath, Ronnie Whelan, Kevin Sheedy and Frank Stapleton.

Ireland held firm in face of Spanish pressure until Atletico Madrid striker Manolo broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute and his strike partner Emilio Butragueno wrapped up the two points with another 14 minutes later.

Republic of Ireland 1-0 Spain (WC Qualifier, 26 Apr 1989)

YouTube Credit: sp1873

A 0-0 draw against Hungary in Budapest meant that Ireland were still winless from their opening three games when they welcomed Spain back to Lansdowne Road in April 1989.

Knowing that they could ill afford to slip up again if they were to keep their qualification hopes alive, Ireland took control of the game, pressing the Spanish and dominating midfield through Paul McGrath and Ronnie Whelan.

With the crowd behind them Whelan forced the game’s only goal in the 16th minute, squaring a low ball for Frank Stapleton who was beaten to it Michel who turned it into his own net.

The win — Ireland’s last against Spain — was the first of a five-game streak for Charlton’s team which took them all the way to the end of the campaign and into Italia 90 as the group runners-up.

Spain 0-0 Republic of Ireland (WC Qualifier, 18 November 1992)

YouTube Credit: sp1873

Ireland and Spain avoided each other in the qualification for Sweden 92 but the old friends were paired together once more on the road to USA 94.

It was the Republic who had a slight edge on points when the teams first met in Seville in November 1992 and the visitors’ confidence translated onto the pitch.

They had the best of the chances and even had a John Aldridge goal chalked off for offside in the second half. Though slightly disappointed not to win the game, Ireland returned home with qualification very much in their own hands.

Republic of Ireland 1-3 Spain (WC Qualifier, 13 October 1993)

YouTube Credit: sp1873

With Denmark and Spain in close attention in the race for Group 3′s top two spots, Ireland welcomed Spain to Dublin for their penultimate qualifier in October 1993. Having lost to Denmark in Copenhagen, Spain knew that another defeat would probably signal the end of their American dream and blitzed Ireland from the off.

Charlton sent out an unfamiliar 4-5-1 on a miserable afternoon and the weather reflected the performance as Spain raced into a 3-0 lead inside 27 minutes, Julio Salinas adding a brace to Jose Caminero’s opener.

John Sheridan did get a consolation for the hosts with 18 minutes remaining but defeat left Ireland needing a win from their final game, away to Northern Ireland, to guarantee a return to the World Cup. As it happened, Spain beat Denmark in Seville and Alan McLoughlin’s famous equaliser in that 1-1 draw in Windsor Park was enough for the Boys in Green.

Spain 1-1 Republic of Ireland (Spain won 3-2 on penalties, World Cup, 16 June 2002)

YouTube Credit: debabrataghose1

Remember Suwon? After the madness of Saipan (ssssh, don’t mention it), Mick McCarthy’s Ireland took up the challenge and battled their way out of a tough World Cup pool with draws against Cameroon and Germany and a win against Saudi Arabia. That set up a last 16 meeting with Jose Camacho’s Spain who had cruised through their own group with three wins from three.

The history books will show that it was a game Ireland could have — and maybe should have — won but in the circumstances, the Boys in Green were fortunate to take it into extra-time. Ian Harte’s missed penalty left them still trailing to Fernando Morientes’s eighth-minute opener as the clock ticked into injury time, before the vigilance of referee Anders Frisk gave Robbie Keane a second chance to level the tie from the spot.

Keane obliged and Ireland went on to dominate in extra time but couldn’t find a way through. Heartbreak followed when Matt Holland, David Connolly and Kevin Kilbane all missed from the spot in the shootout, leaving Gaizka Mendieta to scuff the winner past Shay Given.

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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