Fresh faces show some reasons to be cheerful in promising encounter
When playing the ball on the ground, through, the Greeks looked strong and capable and there was more than one other occasion on which they threatened to open the home team up.
What was really eye-catching about the Irish performance, though, was the attacking side of their game, with Séamus Coleman the stand out player, for the way in which he pushed confidently forward and, in the first half, linked up so well again with Robbie Brady.
The young Dubliner, like James McClean on the other side, had moments when a little more experience might have added to their effectiveness but both displayed a real capacity to threaten the opposition goal directly, as well as with crosses or set-pieces from the flanks. That, of course, is something that the manager has been crying out for of late.
In short, there were plenty of chances for Ireland to get on the scoresheet with Simon Cox passing up the best of the first half when he got his attempt to head home Coleman’s inch-perfect cross badly wrong while Stephen Ward should have done a lot better in the second when a wildly deflected Andy Keogh shot looked to have dropped rather nicely for the left-footer.
At that point, Trapattoni had reshaped his side, going to 4-5-1 after introducing Wes Hoolahan and Kevin Doyle at the break and the results were encouraging enough, even if the Greeks seemed content to view the rest of the match as an exercise in defending a lead.
They did it well enough, to be fair, although O’Shea had a decent looking header blocked by Alexandros Tziolis and the visitors had to scramble their way out of trouble more than once.
Coleman also represented a persistent thorn in their side with the full back’s pace and purpose going forward forcing them to concede a steady succession of free-kicks.
Ultimately, Trapattoni’s men simply couldn’t make anything of them, which is disappointing given they will surely find the going no easier against Sweden in the spring. For the moment, though, the newcomers are showing promise and the team appears to be progressing with its new, more attractive pattern of play. On nights like these, that amounts to a result of sorts.