Result may not be enough to save Trap
Faroe Islands 1 Republic of Ireland 4:Giovanni Trapattoni did not have the air of a man who expects to lose his job after tonight’s emphatic win over the Faroe Islands, but there remains the lingering suspicion that the Italian’s reign as Ireland manager could be at an end.
Trapattoni, who has cancelled a press briefing in Dublin tomorrow morning, preferring instead to travel home to Italy, was in ebullient form as he heaped praise on the likes of James McCarthy, Marc Wilson and Seamus Coleman. However, when the questions turned towards his future, the 73-year-old first claimed he was unaware of any speculation.
And the interview with RTE television ended abruptly when Trapattoni was asked what he would do if told the FAI no longer retained faith in his ability to continue in the role. “For me, it is no problem,” he responded, without clarifying if he would be prepared to work with an association that didn’t want his services.
Ireland started in positive fashion and determined to make amends for their German nightmare, and central defender Darren O’Dea glanced a header well wide from Brady’s first-minute corner. However, the home side, buoyed by their near-miss against the Swedes, soon found a way into the game and right-back Seamus Coleman had to dispossess wide-man Simun Samuelsen twice within the opening five minutes as he surged forward.
But Ireland looked to have the greater goal-threat, and they went close for the first time with seven minutes played when Keane laid the ball off for strike-partner Jon Walters, who fed it out for 20-year-old Brady to cut inside and curl a left-footed shot just wide.
Trapattoni’s men were dominating and it took a far-post block by Samuelsen to keep out Aiden McGeady’s close-range header after James McCarthy had played Walters into space down the left. However, they should have been ahead from the resulting corner when Brady played the ball short to McGeady and he crossed for Keith Andrews to get ahead of central defender Rogvi Baldvinsson, but head wide with the goal at his mercy.
Ireland keeper Keiren Westwood was sent back-pedalling anxiously across his line to palm away Daniel Udsen’s 18th-minute cross as it threatened to creep under his crossbar. But it was his side who went close again four minutes later when Walters profited from good play by McGeady down the left to head powerfully towards, but just over, keeper Gunnar Nielsen’s goal.
The longer the half wore on with their clean sheet intact, the more the Faroes grew in confidence, and with optimism increasing among the home fans Ireland were held at bay. But Nielsen was called upon for the first time with 28 minutes gone when, after Andrews had flicked on Keane’s cross, Walters forced him into an important save.
McGeady incurred Trapattoni’s wrath on the sideline after carelessly giving the ball away twice in quick succession as the game reached the half-hour mark. The Faroes were certainly making a game of it and the visitors were forced to deal with two corners in quick succession after full-back Pol Justinussen’s long-range effort was deflected wide.
Indeed, they might have taken the lead seven minutes before the break when Christian Holst slid the ball in for Joan Edmundsson and his low drive was blocked by O’Dea. The small band of travelling supporters sitting to the right of FAI executive John Delaney were growing impatient as their side failed to break down the minnows with half-time fast approaching.
Keane’s evening took a turn for the worse when he was caught by Baldvinsson’s elbow as the pair challenged for a high ball, and the 32-year-old was clearly still feeling the effect several minutes later.
Trapattoni made a change at the break when he sent on Simon Cox for Brady and asked the striker to take up the same wide midfield role. The breakthrough arrived with less than a minute of the second half gone, and it did so in spectacular fashion.
Fullback Marc Wilson picked up possession wide on the left and cut inside before shooting right-footed from 30 yards with the ball clipping full-back Jonas Naes on the head as it flew into the top corner. Keane might have doubled his side’s tall within four minutes when James McCarthy played him into space and he made ground into the penalty area, but shot wastefully over.
However, the LA Galaxy frontman had a hand in his side’s second goal three minutes later. Wilson’s left-wing cross was headed towards goal by Walters and Keane’s efforts to get there before Nielsen put the keeper off and the ball ended up in the back of the net.
Both Walters and Keane celebrated, but television replays suggested that it was the former’s goal. Keane squandered another good opportunity when he skipped past Odmar Faero and fired across Nielsen three minutes later, but his effort ran just wide of the far post.
Both Trapattoni and assistant Marco Tardelli were animated on the sideline as Walters was forced to leave the pitch to change his shorts as play went on without him. But the striker was back on the pitch by the time the Faroes hit back with 22 minutes remaining. Naes was given time to cross from the right and delivered the perfect cross for substitute Arnbjorn Hansen to climb high and head firmly past Westwood.
The home crowd sensed an opportunity and the Faroes threw men forward in the hunt for an equaliser. However, their hopes were dashed within five minutes when Walters exploited the space behind Naes and crossed into the penalty area.
The ball fell behind McGeady but in his efforts to prevent it reaching another green shirt, Justinussen could only turn it into his own net. McGeady was denied a goal by a fine 88th-minute save from Nielsen, but O’Dea headed home the resulting corner as the players did their bit for Trapattoni.
Faroe Islands(4-3-3): Gunnar Nielsen; Jonas Naes, Pol Justinussen, Odmar Faero, Rogvi Baldvinsson; Hallur Hansson, Frodi Benjaminsen, Simun Samuelsen; Daniel Udsen, Christian Holst, Joan Edmundsson
Republic of Ireland(4-4-2): Keiren Westwood; Séamus Coleman, John O’Shea, Darren O’Dea, Marc Wilson; Robbie Brady, Keith Andrews, James McCarthy, Aiden McGeady; Robbie Keane, Jonathan Walters.