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Dublin: 4°C Saturday 26 September 2020


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Welcome to our coverage of Andorra v Ireland. In any normal circumstances this would be a fairly routine win. But, given how this group is winding down and the fact that Andorra have proven themselves awkward defenders for even the biggest sides, it’s anything but.

Tonight’s going to be all about patience for Ireland.

On RTE, John Giles reckons that the pressure of the occasion might have got to Trapattoni a bit. He thinks he’s paying Andorra far too much respect by playing the usual XI with two defensive midfielders.

I’m inclined to agree. As Liam Brady said, against a team that are so defensive, Ireland need players who can beat a man or pick a pass. Players who are predominantly defensive are going to be completely redundant tonight.

On that, there’s a bit of an issue about the Irish bench – there’s not much on it. James McCarthy has gone off with a head cold while Seamus Coleman isn’t on it at all. It’s a very surprising decision as regards the Everton man. Only indication as to the reason for it so far seems to be that Trap thinks it’s a game where experience is required. Surely this is the kind of occasion where you might youthful exuberance and innovation too?

The panel – perhaps typically – are very cautious about this game.

Brady: “Tonight’s a night for guile. And we don’t have a lot of it.”

Around the rest of the groups:

  • Germany are blowing open Group A by beating Turkey away. Although it still means Belgium have to win in Germany on Tuesday
  • Serbia have equalised against Italy which means they should secure second spot. That, unfortunately, renders Northern Ireland’s 1-0 lead over Estonia meaningless
  • Romania have been pegged back 1-1 by Belarus, a result which will eliminate them
  • England are 1-0 up against Montenegro through Ashley Young. As if there was any doubt, that’s them through.
  • Spain are doing Scotland a massive favour by winning 2-0 away to the Czech Republic. Only problem: Scotland will likely have to go and beat Spain next.

Bill, as ever, refuses to share the lads’ pessimism. But Dunphy rightfully describes Coleman’s omission as “scandalous”

Andorra’s anthem has some teasing hints of ‘La Marseillaise’

Ronnie Whelan calls it: “Andorra are just not very good at football”

And the Irish team:

Given; St Ledger, O’Shea, O’Dea, Ward; McGeady,Whelan, Andrews, Duff; Doyle, Keane

And we’re off.

Ireland create their first chance inside 40 seconds. A Whelan header falls to Keane, who barges through the Andorran defence. The ball falls to Doyle about seven yards out at an angle. Doyle might have been able to chip it over Gomez but the keeper got out very well to block.

McGeady hits a deep cross over but it’s nodded away by Lima before Keane could surely nod it in.

@GeragthyDarren tweets saying Andorra have a lot of big names: Ayala, Vieira, Puyol and Silva… pity for them they’re not the real things.

Keane hits the bar! A long ball found its way to him and, although his first effort was blocked by Gomes (a worry, by the by), Keane hit his follow-up too high. Probably should have been 1-0.

Ireland have started at a very high tempo… but an awkward clearance from O’Dea has just given Andorra a corner.

Corner wasted and Ireland immediately win a dangerous free-kick at the other end. This would be Richard Dunne territory for a header.

But it proves John O’Shea territory too! He hits the post but it’s flagged offside.

Andorra are actually a little more open than you’d expect.

Ireland win their first corner.

GOAL! Andorra 0-1 Ireland

After seven minutes, John O’Shea wins a header in the air and, before Gomes can get his hand to it, Doyle spins and scores. The Wolves striker was technically offside though.

Given that Andorra struggle to score that’s pretty much all the tension taken out of the game. Ireland should use this to build up players’ goal counts and also build confidence.

And, in Slovakia, Russia have taken the lead! Good news followed by bad for Ireland. That pretty much ensures they qualify automatically. Follow Adrian with the action here.

The only team to have scored more than three goals against Andorra are Armenia in this group. And, interestingly, Slovakia share the heaviest defeat with Andorra; 4-0.

Could have been 2-0 Ireland there! Doyle actually blocked McGeady’s shot.

There’s a stoppage in the Irish game at the minute as the net has become detached.

And, a quick trip around Europe:

  • Turkey still trail Germany 1-0, which is of great benefit to Belgium who themselves are winning 2-0 against Kazakhstan. Only problem: the Belgians next have to go and win in Germany
  • Northern Ireland still beating Estonia 1-0 but it will mean little if Serbia hold out to keep the 1-1 draw against the Italians
  • Romania have edged ahead against Belarus again. But the fact both France and Bosnia-Herzegovina are beating Luxembourg and Albania, respectively, renders that irrelevant. It’s an effective play-off between Bosnia and France in Paris on Tuesday
  • Greece draw 0-0 with Croatia, a result which suits Croatia fine. Should assure them of top spot.
  • England 2-1 up against Montenegro at half-time. It was 2-0.
  • Spain still leading Czech Republic 2-0, which is good news for Scotland

GOAL! Andorra 0-2 Ireland

A free-kick from outside the box falls out to McGeady on the left, who drives home.

Andorra are so much more open than at any other stage in this group. Ireland should beat Armenia’s four against them tonight.

Shock: Andorra are actually trying to play a bit of football here tonight. Guess Trap was right to play both Whelan and Andrews in the middle

Andorra kept possession for a good three minutes there.

Slightly surreal occasion this. It’s been an intense enough night and these are high-ressure games as we come to the boil… but this is like training.

30 minutes gone… Andorra 0-2 Ireland

Stephen Ward booked for diving in the Andorra box. He will now miss the Armenia game.

And Russia have beaten Slovakia 1-0. That means Russia are almost sure to finish top. Provided Ireland do the business against Armenia, it’s a play-off yet again.

Russia should be sure of that, by the by, because they have a better head-to-head record against Ireland and host Andorra on Tuesday.

The major talking points out of a routine win so far?

  • Ward has foolishly got himself booked, requiring a defensive reshuffle against a dangerous Armenian attack on Tuesday
  • Aiden McGeady will grow in confidence from that goal and he could be very important on the break
  • If Seamus Coleman can’t get into a Trapattoni 18 in a game against Andorra, when can he get in?

Corner for Ireland. The two centre-halves come up. And why wouldn’t they?

A foul throw from the Andorran number three there. How come refs never call them in professional football?

Yes. That’s what we’re reduced to discussing here.

McGeady plays a nice through ball for Keane who attempts to weave through the Andorran defence and wins a corner.

Ward heads the corner wide.

Lima with a fine free-kick there from 30 yards… but it’s still an easy save for Shay Given who was well positioned.

Massive turnaround in Group F – Samaras has given Greece the lead against Croatia! That means it’s Greece who can take command of the automatic spot… and potentially leave Ireland facing the Croatians in any play-off

Oh, and bad news for the North! Estonia have equalised. 1-1 there.

Half-time: Andorra 0-2 Ireland

Any tension evaporated after seven minutes with Doyle’s goal and it’s been a procesion ever since.

Disaster for Romania! Belarus have equalised. They’re out.

This courtesy of TV3′s Tommy Martin:

The draw for the play-offs will be on Thursday and they are seeded. As it stands, Ireland will be unseeded.

In Montenegro, where England lead 2-1, Rooney has caused unnecessary anxiety by getting himself sent off for kicking out – 16 minutes left.

And we’re back under way. The question now is how many Ireland can get? Or will they try and ‘protect’ this lead?

Interesting news Premier League wise.

As well as Cabaye and Ashley Young, Luis Suarez is the latest player to pick up an injury in these international fixtures. That’s all the worse given that Uruguay were demolishing Bolivia.

Robbie Keane put through again but another good save from Gomez who got out quickly. He’s a decent keeper the Andorran.

O’Dea just over from a set-piece.

Estonia have beaten Northern Ireland 2-1! That’s them out. And Serbia are in a strong position to qualify behind Italy in that group after their 1-1 draw.

Greece, meanwhile, have beaten Croatia 2-0 thereby leapfrogging Slaven Bilic’s side for top spot.

Against the Czech Republic tonight, Spain managed 1088 passes in their 2-0 win – the highest in the qualifiers so far.

Robbie Keane misses a sitter! Ball fell to him with his back to goal two yards away from it but he turned and hooked it over the bar!

England have been caught 2-2 in the last few minutes but it doesn’t matter as they qualify for Euro 2012

Rooney’s kick means he will at least miss the opening game of Euro 2012. And, depending on how Uefa rule on that unsavoury incident, it could yet be the entire group stage.

Keith Fahey coming on for Glenn Whelan after 65 minutes.

I;’m out for the next 10 minutes, so tagging Adrian back in after his exploits in Zilina. Don’t worry, this time I’ll shake his hand.

I’m painting the kitchen tomorrow and – no offence, Trap – I think watching it dry afterwards may be more exciting than this game, to be honest.

But who cares right? We’ve got 72 minutes on the clock, Ireland are two up and we know the real work is ahead.

Lookng at the crazy scenes in Podgorica though, I wouldn’t fancy a trip back there for a play-off, Bill.

Here’s the crudely-deflected Russia goal from earlier that will prove so important.

You may have to refresh for it to embed properly in the liveblog software.

Stephen Hunt is on for Duffer who’s taken a few kicks throughout the evening.

Stephen Ward cut in dangerously there, showcasing a lovely flick and quick feet, the ball breaks to Keith Andrews on the edge of the box but the danger is snuffed out.

Ten Pinter-esque minutes left.

A chance! Stephen Hunt and Robbie Keane combined well down the left. The skipper stood the ball up for Shane Long at the back post but the West Brom man knocked it wide.

The Ireland fans are, in fairness, still singing their little hearts out. Five minutes to go.

Keane almost played McGeady through there as he broke square into the box. A defender stretches to clip it over and behind for a corner. Keane taps his temple with his index finger. “I’ve still got it.”

After Northern Ireland were beaten by a late Estonia goal, the pressure mounts on Mr N Worthington.

This pre-made sign must have required at least two-three blue markers.

FULL TIME A win is a win, says Darragh Maloney. And he’s not wrong.

Ireland know the top of the group is now gone in all probability. But, after tonight’s action, Armenia come to Dublin needing to win to take a play-off place away from Trap’s men. A point will do us.

What’s your verdict?

Thanks for your company throughout what was an intriguing, if not exciting, game and night in Andorra and right across Europe. We’ll have more reaction and analysis in the coming minutes.

Keep the comments coming in the meantime. And roll on Tuesday.