Ciaran Callan at the Aviva Stadium
With three wins and a draw with ten points in the bank, Mick McCarthy knew coming into tonight’s match that they were entering the fray of the business end of qualification for Euro 2020. With 281 days until the opening tournament fixture Ireland will want to be there to showcase the team and to Europe the passion that comes with the Irish supporters and the advantage of playing at least two games at home in the Aviva in this inter-country staged tournament.
A first goal made of real goal from David McGoldrick gave Ireland a vital point that could prove to be worth its weight at the end of this campaign. In fact, given the Swiss’s domination in possession it shows McCarthy has instilled in his team to trust the process and take the chances when they come. It may not be pretty but it’s an effective tactic.
Jeff Hendrick marked tonights start with a fiftieth cap for the Republic as Mick McCarthy made one change from the side that beat Gilbraltar in June. Glenn Whelan came into the starting eleven ahead of Scott Hogan.
The first sight on goal was for the away side when Breel Embolo chested down a Kevin Mbabu cross however just as he was about to pull the trigger Shane Duffy intervened to hook the ball clear. The Swiss continued to press Dundalk defence and forced Richard Keogh into an error to force a corner, the early moments of this game saw the rear guard tested on numerous occasions with some smart interlinking play from the front three. Ireland was struggling to get a foothold of the game. Then Jeff Hendrick sensing the nervous energy in the ground burst forward and his forward pass fell to James McClean, the winger looked to be have been taken down in the area only for him to shoot back up and strike a low but weak shot at Sommer, if he had stayed down there could have been a call for a penalty.
Switzerland combined to grow into the game and with twenty minutes of the game had the lions share of possession and chances on goal. Ireland’s high pressing game meant that there was always the possibility of being exposed at the back, however, when attacking Ireland in the final third were simply lacking that final touch. Granit Xhaka was next to test Darren Randolph but his free-kick took a deflection for a corner, the ball eventually fell to Schar after Randolph’s punch clearance fell short, however, his effort went high and wide. The away side forced a brilliant save from Randolph as he denied Seferovic. Despite it being as offside anyway, he had to tip the ball around the post as it looked like it was deflected to him off an Irish defender.
The last big chance fell to Ireland when David McGoldrick broke down the right and with Robinson and McClean at the back post it looked as if he lifted his head to see the onrushing players but his cross-shot was over hit and went wide.
The second half was quite frantic with both sides trying to exert their possession and dominance on the game. While Ireland once again looked threatening on the break it was the Swiss who looked more confident in their attacking play. A lengthy spell attacking Ireland’s backline yielded nothing of note. Breel Embolo who had been a threat all evening looked as if he was on course to break the deadlock, receiving the ball at Randolphs near post you would have bet the house on the striker scoring but his slip at the vital time while it was fortuitous for Ireland, it signalled that they were doing more than just knock on the door.
Alan Judge a second-half substitute broke down the right in a rare Ireland attack but his cross went high and wide. Moments later it looked as if the game temperament could spill over as when Duffy went down the Swiss players was incensed that the game was stopped when it hadn’t been for one their players a few moments later. Referee Carlos Del Cerro Grande had to bide his time in order to restore parity but the Swiss used that frustration to their advantage.
They got their just rewards for testing the Ireland defence with an excellent pass and move that saw Fabian Schar curl a low powerful effort past Randolph. Ireland couldn’t withstand the clever one-touch pass and movement as Switzerland bore down on the Ireland goal.
Ireland looked to take the game to the Swiss and they did just that when firstly Glenn Whelan hit a thunderous effort that cannoned off the crossbar and seconds later David McGoldrick struck gold with his first-ever Ireland goal as he headed powerfully past Sommer to send the Aviva rocking.
In theory, a point would have been taken by those in the Aviva tonight but Ireland need to exert most confidence in attack at times but McCarthy you feel has some tricks up his sleeve before the end of this campaign.
Next up is a friendly with Bulgaria, a chance for McCarthy to stretch the legs of some of the players to warm the bench, maybe even Jack Byrne too. For League of Ireland fans here is hoping.
Republic of Ireland: Darren Randolph; Seamus Coleman, Shane Duffy, Richard Keogh, Enda Stevens; Jeff Hendrick, Glenn Whelan, Conor Hourihane (Scott Hogan 82 Mins); Callum Robinson (Alan Judge 58 Mins), David McGoldrick (Alan Browne 90 Mins), James McClean.
Subs not used: Kieran O’Hara, Mark Travers, Cyrus Christie, John Egan, Ronan Curtis, Callum O’Dowda, Josh Cullen, Kevin Long, James Collins.
Switzerland: Yann Sommer, Kevin Mbabu (Edimilson Fernandes 90 Mins), Nico Elvedi, Manuel Akanji, Breel Embolo (Albian Ajeti 86 Mins), Remo Freuler, Haris Seferovic, Granit Xhaka, Ricardo Rodriguez, Denis Zakaria (Admir Mehmedi 90 Mins), Fabian Schar.
Subs not used: Yvon Mvogo, Jonas Omlin, Jacques Francois Moubandje, Silvan Widmer, Renato Steffen, Eray Cumart, Christian Fassnacht, Admir Mehmedi, Mario Gavranovic, Loris Benito.
Booked: Enda Stevens (14 mins), Fabin Schar (90 Mins)
Referee: Carlos Del Cerro Grande (Spain)