Ireland hit for six of the worst as Trapattoni comes under pressure


Rep of Ireland 1 Germany 6:THE FAI must have been pleased to have finally had their new stadium full for the start of a football match. Their delight was undoubtedly short-lived, however, with thousands of empty seats appearing over the course of a second half in which a defeat became a humiliation.

There had never, of course, seemed much cause for optimism as the world’s second best team arrived to face what was arguably close to being the Republic of Ireland’s second string. But the scale of defeat, as well as its manner, exceeded the expectations of even most pessimists, with the home side taken apart by a side that might easily have had more goals if only they had had the appetite for them.

As it was, they inflicted what was Ireland’s worst ever home defeat and comfortably its worst in a competitive match here in Dublin despite strolling through the closing stages without the players who had scored three of the opening four goals.

The scale of it all inevitably raises questions about whether it is time for Giovanni Trapattoni to make way in favour of someone with fresh ideas and energy. The Italian is entitled to argue that he had a desperately weakened hand to play last night, that he employed the system that most of his critics have been imploring him to for quite some time and that the Germans are pretty good. For all that, though, this fell terribly short of good enough.

There had, early on, actually been some promising signs that the additional man in midfield might enable the home side to make more of a match in that department with Ireland’s central three unsettling their opposite numbers in the opening exchanges and Keith Andrews managing to provide some attacking support. That didn’t last long though.

Jon Walter’s work-rate was certainly impressive but it quickly became clear it wasn’t going to be anywhere close to enough. Occasionally he would link up well with a team-mate but the final ball, generally played under considerable pressure, was almost always poor and the Germans were never put under anything approaching real pressure.

In fact Manuel Neuer, having come to head clear at one stage in the first half, didn’t have to actually make a save worthy of the description until injury time at the end of the second. Then, after Séamus Coleman had slipped a low ball through to him, Andy Keogh finally tested the German goalkeeper. From the resulting corner, taken by Robbie Brady moments after coming on to make his competitive debut, Keogh capitalised on Bastian Schweinsteiger’s misjudged attempt to head clear and turned the ball home. Those that stayed on finally had something to cheer but when the final whistle followed almost immediately after the restart, they made it known how they really felt about what they had just seen.

The Germans, in reality, were vastly superior, something they had first provided evidence of less than a quarter of an hour in when, with the home side penned in, they started to push the ball almost unhindered around the edges of the Irish area, poking and prodding in search of openings.

When under pressure, the Irish full-backs generally surrendered the wide areas to Marco Reus and Thomas Müller, ensuring the visitors’ central midfield almost always had an easy option

Sami Khedira didn’t always need it with the Real Madrid midfielder causing problems more than once with balls for Miroslav Klose.

A breakthrough became ever more inevitable and once it came, courtesy of a smart finish by Reus after some error strewn defending, it quickly became clear the floodgates might open.

If Coleman was a little unfortunate for that first when the ball came off his knee as he sought to tee up a clearance, he was caught badly for the second, getting a little over ambitious far up the pitch where he failed to get the better of Marcel Schmelzer and lost possession. He desperately tried to get back as the Germans swept forward through Mesut Özil and Müller whose low crossfield ball played Reus perfectly in for his second.

Having shown glimpses of his best and worst in the opening minutes when he followed a fine piece of defensive tracking and challenge with a hopelessly miscued clearance, Ward struggled to cope at left-back and neither of Ireland’s centre halves looked remotely on top of things.

In front of them, though, the early composure largely disappeared, with Simon Cox particularly guilty of handing the visitors opportunities to break due to careless or misplaced balls.

Walters continues to do his best while James McCarthy, Keith Fahey and Coleman raised spirits at time with some controlled play and well judged passes. But in reality it was the Germans who were making all the running and an early goal for them in the second half seemed likely to prompt an implosion.

It came courtesy of an Özil penalty after Klose had been clumsily taken down by Darren O’Dea and was followed by perhaps the most embarrassing goal of the evening with Klose getting between the home side’s two central defenders to chase down Schweinsteiger’s through ball and then simply rounding Keiren Westwood to sidefoot home.

With just over an hour gone the records began to tumble when Toni Kroos made it 5-0 by volleying O’Shea’s headed clearance straight into the bottom left corner. The substitute midfielder’s second, with seven minutes remaining, was at least as good with the 22-year-old, who had only previously scored twice in 32 appearances for his country, finding the top corner after being given plenty of time and space to line things up.

Trapattoni’s own first attempt to shore things up had involved bringing on Shane Long for Fahey and trying to reshape his side slightly shortly after the second half had got under way, but when he replaced Aiden McGeady with Andy Keogh at 5-0 the move seemed to test the crowd’s patience.

The 26-year-old, however, justified the manager’s continued faith in him with the late goal.

On a very difficult night, few of his team-mates could say the same but then it is Trapattoni himself who is bound to be ahead of them in the public’s firing line.

HEAVIEST DEFEATS: Our worst days on the soccer pitch

Spain 4 Ireland 0 Euro finals, Gdansk, June 2012

Ireland 0 Netherlands 4 Friendly, Dublin, August 2006

Ireland 1 Denmark 4 WC Qualifier, Dublin, Nov 1985

Brazil 7 Ireland 0 Friendly, Uberlandia, May 1982

Austria 6 Ireland 0 Euro Qualifier, Linz, October 1971

Ireland 1 Austria 4 Euro Qualifier, Dublin, May 1971

Hungary 4 Ireland 0 WC Qualifier, Budapest, Nov 1969

Ireland 0 Germany 4 Friendly, Dublin, May 1966

Czech Republic 7 Ireland 1 WC Qualifier, Prague, October 1961

Spain 5 Ireland 1 WC Qualifier, Seville, March 1961

Czech Republic 4 Ireland 0 Euro Qualifier, Bratislava, May 1959

England 5 Ireland 1 WC Qualifier, London, May 1957

Spain 6 Ireland 0 Friendly, Madrid, June 1952

Austria 6 Ireland 0 Friendly, Vienna, May 1952

Belgium 5 Ireland 1 Friendly, Brussels, May 1950

Poland 6 Ireland 0 Friendly, Warsaw, May 1937

Irish Free State 0 Spain 5 Friendly, Dublin, December 1931

– Eoghan Morrissey

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