Watched the match last night with Dave down in the Ball Alley. Ireland are under pressure to qualify for the World Cup after continually letting wins turn into draws so we basically had to win last night. A “win” generally suggests that you are better than the other team but that was not the case last night. Ireland got off to a great start and Stephen Elliott got his first senior goal with a smivelling half volley after a knock down from Robbie Keane. What happened after the goal was unbelievable though. Ireland simply switched off. It was like they had decided that now they had scored they were going to sit back and let Cyprus attack and pass the ball about.
We have one man to thank for Cyprus not scoring: Shay Given. Shortly after Elliott scored, Richard Dunne, a big, slow central defender brought down a Cypriot player in the box. The ref duly signalled a penalty but Given pulled off a fantastic save to deny them. Thereafter he made a string of high quality saves as the rest of the squad seemed to have fallen asleep. The second half wasn’t much better and we were lucky to hang on for the win. A lot needs to change before Wednesday’s crunch game against Switzerland. We’re hampered by the fact that Damien Duff will probably miss the game due to a knee injury he picked up while trying to add some zest into the game. I just hope to God we do it but looking at last night’s performance doesn’t instill me with confidence.