Ireland labour to victory against Gibraltar
Euro 2020 Qualifier, Group D – Aviva Stadium – Republic of Ireland 2 (J. Chipolina OG 29', Brady 90+3') Gibraltar 0
Republic of Ireland maintained their unbeaten start to Euro 2020 qualifying as they secured a routine 2-0 win over Gibraltar at the Aviva Stadium on Monday night.
A Joseph Chipolina own goal from David McGoldrick’s shot and a second from Robbie Brady in second-half stoppage time ensured that Mick McCarthy’s side remain top of Group D on 10 points – five clear of second-placed Denmark, who beat Georgia 5-1 in the other game from the group.
As in March when Ireland could only manage a 1-0 win in Gibraltar, McCarthy’s side made hard work of beating the side ranked 195th in the world – some 166 places beneath them, and it required a slice of good fortune for them to break the deadlock.
Scott Hogan misses a good chance for the Republic of IrelandGetty Images
McGoldrick, who was Ireland’s best player on the night, received captain Seamus Coleman’s cut-back, but the Sheffield United striker’s shot was going wide before it deflected in off the unfortunate Chipolina and wrong-footed goalkeeper Kyle Goldwin.
Ireland had 72 per cent possession, but rarely looked like turning their dominance into a more comfortable lead, with Scott Hogan guilty of missing two good chances before McGoldrick's shot crashed against the post with 18 minutes remaining.
But the contest was wrapped up in the third minute of stoppage time as James McClean found space on the left, and his deep cross evaded Goldwin before being headed into the roof of the net by Brady as Ireland laboured to victory.
Ireland must improve ahead of facing Swiss. McCarthy will point to his side only being able to beat what's put in front of them, but the hope was that against far inferior opposition, his players could put on a show for the 36,281 who chose to attend a far-from-glamorous fixture heading into the summer.
But despite clocking up 27 attempts on goal, only six were on target. With Ireland still to face Switzerland twice, and without the safety net of a Euro 2020 play-off place, improvement will be needed if they are to secure a berth at next summer’s tournament.
Mick McCarthy looks to speed things up for Ireland on MondayGetty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
David McGoldrick (Republic of Ireland). While there was an end-of-season feel about many of Ireland’s players in front of a very well organised Gibraltar side, it was the 31-year-old without an international goal to his name who looked sharpest.
Having earned promotion to the Premier League with Sheffield United, McGoldrick is desperate to show he can make the step up in class, and despite somewhat cruelly failing to find the net, his tireless running and energy kept Gibraltar constantly on the back foot - only the width of the post denied him a deserved maiden international strike.
David McGoldrick celebrates after Ireland's opener against GibraltarGetty Images
Republic of Ireland: Randolph 6, Coleman 7, Duffy 6, Keogh 6, Stevens 6, Robinson 6, Hourihane 7, Hendrick 7, McClean 6, Hogan 5, McGoldrick 8. Subs – Brady 7, Maguire 6.
Gibraltar: Goldwin 7, Sergeant 6, Joseph Chipolina 7, Roy Chipolina 7, Annesley 6, Olivero 6, De Barr 6, Andrew Hernandez 5, Pons 5, Walker 5, Casciaro 5. Subs – Jolley 5, Bardon 6, Britto 5.
2 - CHANCE! Hourihane delivers from the right, and after Goldwin flaps at the initial cross, the midfielder's clipped centre is then headed over from five yards out by Duffy. What a good early chance!
29 - GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAL!!!!! Republic of Ireland 1-0 Gibraltar. Finally the breakthrough for Ireland and David McGoldrick will claim this even though there seems to be a big deflection here off Joseph Chipolina.
There's more good work down the right from Robinson, and after his cross is blocked, Coleman sets up McGoldrick for the shot, scuffed into the ground and the ball hits the chest of Chipolina on its way into the net.
34 - CLOSE! So close to a second for Ireland as Coleman's trickery down the right results in a low cross that is brilliantly flicked towards goal by Robinson, and there's another deflection off a Gibraltar defender which takes the ball inches past Goldwin's right-hand post!
66 - GOOD SAVE!! Ireland very nearly have that all-important second as McGoldrick slips the ball into the feet of Hogan, he looks to find the near post but Goldwin does well to get down low and tip the ball to safety!
Scott Hogan - Republic of IrelandGetty Images
72 - OFF THE POST!!! Ireland won't get much closer to doubling their tally. Stevens works the ball into the feet of McGoldrick down the left. The striker cuts inside onto his right foot and strikes this ball sweetly against Goldwin's left-hand post. So, so close!
90+3 - GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAL!!!!!!!!!! Repiblic of Ireland 2-0 Gibraltar. It's game over and Robbie Brady gets his goal! He's had an impact since coming on, and you've got to be delighted for him after a frustrating season at Burnley.
It's a great ball from James McClean, and Brady couldn't miss at the far post as he stooped to head into the roof of the net.
- Republic of Ireland have won all four of their previous meetings with Gibraltar by an aggregate score of 14-0. However, half of those 14 goals came in their first such meeting.
- Gibraltar have lost all 23 of the European Championships/World Cup qualifying matches, failing to score in each of their last seven such games.
- Republic of Ireland have lost just one of their last nine games in all competitions (W3 D5), keeping six clean sheets in the process.
- Robbie Brady scored his first goal in 17 matches for Republic of Ireland, since netting in a friendly against Oman in August 2016.
- Ireland’s Conor Hourihane created eight goalscoring opportunities for his teammates in this match – only Miralem Pjanic for Bosnia against Armenia in March (9) has created more in a single match in this qualifying campaign.