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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 19 February, 2020


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By the time our clocks hit 9.35pm tonight Ireland may have qualified for Euro 2020.

There’s a long, long, long way to go before that eventuality, but the bottom line in Geneva is that three points would definitely secure our place at a third consecutive European Championships.

Will it easy? Jesus no. Is the pitch in an absolute state? Yes it is. Is there always hope? You betcha.

Following Saturday’s God-awful, tear-your-hair-out stalemate away to Georgia, Mick McCarthy’s men must beat either Switzerland or Denmark in order to top the group. Two draws simply won’t do, so the stakes are massive against two top-quality sides.

The Swiss have qualified for seven out of the last eight major competitions (they missed Euro 2012) and are currently 11th in the FIFA World Rankings (if they counts for anything).

With Bundesliga stars like Yann Sommer and Manuel Akanji, Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri, Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka and Benfica striker Haris Seferovic, they are a serious threat.

Vladimir Petković’s side are third in the group as things stand and, like Ireland, need a win to keep their qualification dream alive and kicking. They could only manage a 1-1 draw in Dublin thanks to a late David McGoldrick equaliser at the Aviva.

The awful conditions in Geneva tonight could play into Ireland’s hands despite the doom and gloom about the weather. Switzerland can actually play a bit of football and the ball will struggle to roll properly amid the mucky, squelchy conditions.

Stick with us, kick-off is coming up at 7.45pm

Let’s get started with the team news…

TEAM NEWS: Mick McCarthy makes three changes from Saturday’s draw in Georgia. Matt Doherty, Conor Hourihane and Callum Robinson make way, and in come Enda Stevens, Alan Browne and Aaron Connolly.

It seems like McCarthy has opted for a 4-3-3 formation again. James Collins retains his spot up top and you’d expect James McClean and Aaron Connolly to be deployed on the flanks.

Back from suspension, Stevens retains his spot at left-back instead of Doherty. It’s a big night for Preston North End man Browne, too, as the Cork native prepares to make his first senior competitive start for his country.

You’d feel both Hourihane and Robinson will feel hard done by being dropped to the bench. None of Ireland’s three midfielders impressed in Tblisi, but Hourihane did provide the cross for John Egan’s header which hit the post and is always a threat from set-pieces.

The big news above all else, though, is that young Galway striker Connolly is handed his first senior start. As everyone knows the 19-year-old scored a superb double against Tottenham on his first start Premier League, while he was also impressive on Saturday too.

Connolly had two massive chances in the second-half during his 16-minute cameo off the bench. A strong presence up front, the teenager excels with his timing, positioning, pace in behind and obvious goal-threat. A big, big night for him in attack.

Switzerland: Sommer, Lichtsteiner, Elvedi, Akanji, Embolo, Seferovic, Xhaka, Rodriguez, Zakaria, Mehmedi, Schar.

Ireland: Randolph, Coleman, Duffy, Egan, Stevens, Whelan, Hendrick, Browne, McClean, Connolly, Collins

Speaking to Tony O’Donoghue on RTÉ before kick-off, Mick McCarthy confirms that Ireland will line up in a 3-5-2 formation tonight.

Enda Stevens will join Shane Duffy and John Egan at the back, with James McClean as left-wing back and Seamus Coleman on the opposite side.

Aaron Connolly and James Collins will be partnered up front together, with Glenn Whelan, Jeff Hendrick and Alan Browne in the middle.

A big call by the Ireland boss, but he says his players will be able to handle the system having also played a 3-5-2 against the Swiss in Dublin when the sides last met.

The weather is absolutely appalling in Geneva tonight and there was a real threat that tonight’s game would not go ahead.

There was a late pitch inspection, but the officials seemed satisfied that the rain wasn’t too bad to call a halt to proceedings.

The playing surface at the Stade de Geneva is in a bad way, there’s no denying it. But it has been deemed playable.

Our man on the ground Gavin Cooney has his raincoat at the ready and is braving the wicked conditions as we speak. He will have an on-the-whistle report plus plenty of reaction in the coming hours.

How do you see tonight’s qualifier unfolding? Let us know below!

Poll Results:

Switzerland win, oh no (372)
Ireland win. We're heading to the Euros! (264)
Another bloody draw (244)

Flag 1Mins

KICK-OFF: We’re underway at Stade de Geneva for the first half!


Switzerland 0-0 Ireland

An immediate foul by James Collins up front. He had been trying to contest a long ball lumped forward but backed into defender Nico Elvedi a bit too roughly. The referee blows his whistle.


Switzerland 0-0 Ireland

Another foul. This time James McClean is penalised for dragging out of Stephan Lichtsteiner, who was trying to cut back inside and deliver a cross. Granit Xhaka’s free-kick is poor and easily headed clear.


Switzerland 0-0 Ireland

Almost a chance for Switzerland. Haris Seferovic makes a dangerous run behind enemy lines but the pass from Breel Embolo is slightly overhit and the ball peters out wide for a goal kick to Ireland.


Switzerland 0-0 Ireland

Close! Granit Xhaka lets fly from distance on his left boot but Randolph gets down good and early to palm the ball away. The Arsenal captain was afforded far too much time and space there. Great stop.

darren-randolph Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO


Switzerland 0-0 Ireland

Glenn Whelan with a tidy little pass back Randolph away from danger. The ball is fed out to Seamus Coleman to try and start an attack, but the skiapper hoofs the ball forward and it flies straight to goalkeeper Yann Sommer. Route one football.


Switzerland 0-0 Ireland

James McClean wins two headers bravely. James Collins darts after the second header and succeeds in winning a throw-in. Enda Stevens collects the ball inside the box and wins a corner. Much better from Ireland.


Switzerland 0-0 Ireland

Glenn Whelan’s corner is swung deep into the box. Jeff Hendrick, being held by Denis Zakaria, nods a header wide. Hendrick not one bit impressed by his marker’s dragging and pulling inside the box.


Switzerland 0-0 Ireland

Stephan Lichtsteiner with a cross looking for Breel Embolo at the back post, but Shane Duffy rises highest and heads clear. A cagey enough opening 15 minutes. Ireland are on the back foot but trying to get forward on the counter to expose the space in behind.

Flag 16Mins

Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

GOAL! A massive setback for Ireland as Switzerland take the lead. Glenn Whelan attempted to head clear on the edge of the box, but Haris Seferovic did really well to pick up the scraps before slamming a low effort dragging low all the way into Darren Randolph’s bottom corner. Pinpoint finish.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

It’s just the third goal Mick McCarthy’s side have conceded during this qualifying campaign and now Ireland are really up against it. The visitors had actually been doing relatively okay up until now, containing Switzerland well and limiting them to just that Xhaka shot from range.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Vladimir Petković’s men are looking for a second already. A corner swung deep from Embolo is clawed away by Randolph coming off his line. An important interception in the air.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

James McClean makes a decent run down the left wing, but is bundled over from behind by Denis Zakaria. It looked like an illegal shoulder from the Swiss midfielder, but the referee says it was a fair challenge. Visibly aggrieved, McClean disagrees.

james-mcclean-with-denis-zakaria Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

The hosts are playing keep-ball out there at the moment. Xhaka and Rodriguez string a host of nice, tidy passes together before Seamus Coleman wins the ball back. Ireland offering very little in attack since going behind.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Vladimir Petković is being forced into an early substitution here. Striker Admir Mehmedi has gone down holding the back of his leg and will be replaced by Mainz’s Edimilson Fernandes off the bench.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Lichtsteiner makes a dangerous run right up to the edge of the box. The captain lets fly on his left boot, but drags his shot narrowly wide of the bottom corner. No closing down from the Irish defence there. A big let-off.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

The whistle goes for offside as Ireland try to create a decent sight at goal. Seamus Coleman crossed into the box and John Egan rose high to meet it. The ball veered over towards the back post but James Collins is flagged.

mick-mccarthy Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Xhaka and Seamus Coleman have a coming together and both men receive a yellow card from the referee. No love lost between the pair there. Enda Stevens gets into a promising position but slams a powerful shot over the crossbar.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Alan Browne picks up a booking too. The former Cork City man collided with Lichtsteiner competing for a high ball and goes in the referee’s book for his troubles. A frustrating opening half an hour from an Irish perspective.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

A few worrying signs for Ireland as Aaron Connolly goes down injured. The Brighton striker appeared to have hurt his knee, but he gets up and soldiers on despite some initial pain.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Close! Almost a second goal Switzerland. Fabian Schaer picks up the ball outside the box and bends a dangerous shot just wide of the target. A whisker away from 2-0 for the hosts. Another effort from Embolo flies over the bar.

james-mcclean-dejected-after-his-side-conceded-a-goal Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Jeff Hendrick tries to pick out Connolly with a threaded through ball right into the box. Swiss bodies flood back and hoof the ball clear. Glenn Whelan delivers the corner and Shane Duffy heads straight into the arms of Sommer.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

A couple of minutes to go before half-time. Ireland have produced just one shot on target so far, Duffy’s header just a few moments ago. Mick McCarthy’s side are offering very little going forward at all. Switzerland have enjoyed close to 70% possession.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Big, big opportunity for Switzerland to double their lead. Haris Seferovic chests the ball down brilliantly inside the box onto his right foot. Shane Duffy closes him down and puts him off just enough so that the goalscorer slams his effort over the bar. Easily could have been 2-0.


There will be one minute of stoppage time at the end of the first half.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

A decent chance for Ireland in stoppage time. James Collins dribbles towards the edge of the box and has a go on his left peg. But his shot is really, really weak and trickles harmlessly into the arms of Sommer. He had better options there.

james-collins-dejected-after-his-side-conceded-a-goal Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Flag 45Mins


The referee blows his whistle and we’ve reached the halfway stage.

A frustrating opening 45 minutes for Ireland. Switzerland have dominated possession, looked the better side, been better in attack and created the most opportunities.

They took the lead after 16 minutes with a lovely, low finish from Haris Seferovic into Darren Randolph’s bottom corner.

Ireland have produced two shots on target: a header from Shane Duffy from a corner and that late opportunity for James Collins which he should have done a lot better with.

A poor display from Mick McCarthy’s men so far. Two goals needed to reach Euro 2020. A long, long way to go.

More action from Geneva to come shortly!

Flag 46Mins

Second-half: We’re back underway in Geneva!


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

One change for Ireland at the break as we get back underway. Callum O’Dowda comes on for his first involvement in this qualifying campaign, replacing James Collins. O’Dowda will fill in on the right wing, Connolly through the middle, and McClean on the left.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

O’Dowda had been clearly identifiable thanks to his pristine white kit compared to everyone else soaked in dirt from the terrible playing conditions. That has changed immediately as he is hauled to the ground and into the mud by Nico Elvedi. The resulting free-kick finds its away to McClean. He lobs the ball into the box but his cross lags wide.

Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Ireland enjoying a decent spell of possession since the re-start. Enda Stevens ventures forward on the left and tries to feed the ball to McClean, but Lichtsteiner comes away with possession after some intelligent defending.

james-mcclean-with-nico-elvedi Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Save! It’s Darren Randolph to the rescue for Ireland once again. Ricardo Rodriguez’s free-kick was met powerfully by Seferovic from close range, but Randolph positioned himself perfectly and got a strong hand to the ball. Incredible stop.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

A dangerous attack from Ireland. Glenn Whelan crosses into the box — Aaron Connolly misses with an ambitious scissor-kick and McClean can’t get anything on it either. Better from McCarthy’s men though.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Seamus Coleman sends a low cross towards the box and Fabian Schaer hauls himself in the way to concede a corner. Whelan’s cross is cleared at the first hurdle and falls to Alan Browne, but his shot is also blocked away. Much better from Ireland.

Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Granit Xhaka with a looping free-kick which bends towards the top corner from range. It curls rapidly over the Irish wall, but can’t come down quick enough to test Randolph. Goal-kick to Ireland

seamus-coleman-with-granit-xhaka Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

A good passage of passing play from Ireland ends in frustration. Glenn Whelan picks out James McClean on the wing, but the Derry man’s ball over the top is aimless and peters into the arms of goalkeeper Sommer.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

More good play from Ireland. Glenn Whelan wins the ball back with some selfless battling on the edge of the box. He spins the ball out to McClean on the left and his low cross is blocked away for a corner.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Snapshot from John Egan on the edge of the box. The defender had stayed up from a corner but his right-footed effort lagged just wide of the bottom corner. Decent chance and this is a really promising period for the visitors at the moment. Much improved.

Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Off the post! Corner from Rodriguez is headed off the woodwork by Schaer. Danger is still there for Ireland but Embolo blasts over the top of the crossbar. Big opportunity passed by up Switzerland to put the game to bed.

shane-duffy-with-granit-xhaka Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Setback for Ireland as Shane Duffy picks up a booking. The Brighton defender had tried to compete for a high ball but collided into Manuel Akanji in the process. Yellow card.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Aaron Connolly comes off to be replaced by Scott Hogan. A like-for-like swap as Hogan goes up front for the final 20 minutes. Switzerland make their second switch — captain Stephan Lichtsteiner replaced by Remo Freuler.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

A snappy exchange of passes sees Embolo take possession on the edge of the box. He releases a shot on his left foot, but John Egan gets himself in the way to force a corner kick.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

The corner was intended for Fabian Schaer there, but his header loops high and wide harmessly. Goal-kick to Ireland, who are still pressing for a late equaliser here. Just over 15 minutes of normal time remaining

Flag 78Mins

Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

RED CARD! Seamus Coleman is sent off for Ireland and Switzerland have a penalty to  potentially put the game to bed. The Ireland captain receives a second yellow card after a shot from Embolo was deemed to have hit the defender’s hand.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Ireland will have to battle the final 10 minutes or so with a man down, but Randolph’s stop does give McCarthy’s men the slightest little bit of hope of getting back into this. A brilliant save from the Middlesborough shot-stopper.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Switzerland still pressing for a second here and Ireland are struggling without Coleman at the back. A lot of tired bodies out there in very poor conditions. A win looks beyond McCarthy’s side sadly.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Callum O’Dowda floats a cross into the box looking for the head of James McClean, but the ball floats over the Stoke City man’s head and wide for a goal-kick to Switzerland. Time running out for Ireland now.

Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Scott Hogan swings a header into dangerous territory inside the box. But the linesman raises his flag for offside and the attack comes to nothing. A final switch for Switzerland as Renato Steffen comes on for Breel Embolo. Three minutes remaining.

renato-steffen-and-edmilson-fernandes-with-alan-browne Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Ireland are gifted a corner as Nico Elvedi boots the ball wide under little to no pressure. Jeff Hendrick delivers the cross aiming for Shane Duffy, but the big Brighton defender can’t reach it and the ball peters away from danger.


There will be three minutes of stoppage time at the end of the second half.


Switzerland 1-0 Ireland

Almost a second for Switzerland right at the death. Ireland completely caught out at the back, the ball falls on a plate for Seferovic, but Glenn Whelan throws himself in the way heroically.



But Switzerland do, in fact, grab a second to firmly put the game to bed. Shane Duffy tried to block Fernandes’ shot off the line but could only divert the ball into his own net. Not much Duffy could do about that. It was going in anyway and he tried his best to clear it.



Duffy’s own goal is the final act of the night as the referee blows his whistle for full-time.

A disappointing result for Mick McCarthy’s men as they succumb to a 2-0 defeat in Geneva. Haris Seferovic broke the deadlock with a neat finish after 16 minutes and Shane Duffy’s own goal in stoppage time put the game to bed.

Darren Randolph made a superb penalty save in-between the two goals, but Seamus Coleman was sent off in the process after picking up a second yellow card for a handball inside the box.

Coleman will now miss next month’s final qualifier at home to Denmark, where Ireland know nothing but a win will seal qualification for Euro 2020.

Thanks a million for joining us for our coverage tonight — you can read Gavin Cooney’s on-the-whistle match report here, and you can check out Paul Fennessey’s player ratings here too.


About the author:

Aaron Gallagher


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