David McGoldrick rescued a point for Ireland with a late header against Switzerland as the Boys in Green kept their unbeaten start to the Euro 2020 campaign alive.
Ireland began slowly and struggled to find their rhythm in the opening 45 minutes against the group’s top seeds with James McClean’s scuffed effort the closest they came to opening the scoring.
Switzerland failed to show much of a spark themselves in the first half but grew into the game in the second as they put Ireland on the back foot and began to apply the pressure.
It would pay off in the 75th minute of the game when they opened the scoring after a lovely move and a series of wonderful one touch passes found Newcastle defender Fabian Schar who stroked the ball past Darren Randolph into the Irish net.
Ireland were not to be bettered though and after Glenn Whelan rattled the crossbar from 25 yards out, the Boys in Green found the equaliser thanks to a wonderful header from David McGoldrick.
Here are five definitive conclusions from Ireland’s 1-1 draw against Switzerland.
1) If Ever A Man Deserved A Goal, It Was David McGoldrick.
Finally. An Irish striker has found the net.
Not since Aiden O’Brien against Poland last year had an Irish frontman got on the scoresheet, but tonight would be David McGoldrick’s night.
As per usual, the Sheffield United man worked tirelessly up top, holding the ball up excellently and putting himself about brilliantly.
He then came up with the crucial goal with five minutes to go when he rose highest to head home McClean’s deflected cross and give the Boys in Green a share of the spoils.
McGoldrick has been tremendous since taking up the mantle as Ireland’s number nine and his performances under McCarthy have been more than deserving of a goal.
Hopefully now he can kick on and find the net consistently.
2) McCarthy’s Blind Faith In Certain Players Is Finally Starting To Cost Him
It’s incredibly hard to justify two calls from McCarthy in tonight’s game.
The first was starting James McClean who once again was lively, ran around, made one or two nice tackles, but ultimately failed to really impress.
McClean was once Ireland’s talisman but he has fallen away over the past 18 months or so and the fact that his club have opted to switch him to left-back shows his worth as an attacking player at this stage of his career.
The 29-year-old’s selection is a prime example of McCarthy sticking to the tried and tested players instead of opting for someone who may be less experienced but can still offer a spark.
The second was bringing off Callum Robinson.
Robinson didn’t have his best game in green there’s no doubt, but the Sheffield United man is in form and possesses that attacking spark so few of the Irish side have.
Why take him off with so much of the game to go?
He could’ve so easily hauled one of the midfield three or even McClean off but he went for the least experienced option in Robinson.
It was blind faith and although it’s hard to say it cost them a win, it’s a dangerous precedent to continue with.
3) Enda Stevens and James McClean Doesn’t Work As A Left-Sided Pairing
At Sheffield United, Enda Stevens has so far been one of the best left-backs in the Premier League this campaign, but against the Swiss he struggled massively.
In the first half especially he looked nervous in possession and had his work cut out for him up against the very lively Kevin Mbabu.
It didn’t help that Stevens had James McClean ahead of him whose tendency to drift inside did the Blades’ defender absolutely no favours throughout the night.
At Bramall Lane, Stevens plays as a left-wing back and oftentimes has the freedom of the flank especially on the attack, whereas for Ireland he had to share space with McClean – something he won’t have been used to at club level.
McCarthy appeared to make a change late in the first 45 with Stevens going into a back three and McClean staying out as a left-wing back but returned to a 4-3-3 in the second.
In a similar style to how Matt Doherty and Seamus Coleman doesn’t work on the right hand side, McClean and Stevens certainly doesn’t work on the left.
4) The Irish Press Wasn’t Quite As Effective As McCarthy Would Have Hoped
Credit to Ireland, they did what McCarthy said they would and pressed Switzerland quite high up the pitch even though they struggled with it hugely in the early stages.
Pressing from the front, Hendrick and Hourihane encroached on the Swiss back four but were essentially taken out of the game with two or three neat passes from their opponents.
That left huge gaps between the Irish midfield and the defence which the Swiss found space in as Glenn Whelan struggled to deal with the runners.
Ireland were lucky that their opponents didn’t punish them early and seemed to grow a little bit more accustomed to the tactic as the game wore on but the spaces often remained.
Switzerland then began to find their rhythm and Ireland sat back before inevitably conceding. It’s a tactic that is employed by some of the very best teams in the world but with the Boys in Green it still needs some work.
5) This Side Is Absolutely Crying Out For James McCarthy
Poor Glenn Whelan.
Over the years he has been a tremendous servant for Ireland and for the most part has received unwarranted criticism for his level of performances in a green jersey.
Against Switzerland however he looked out of his depth.
The holding role is a decidedly difficult one to occupy and Whelan was excellent against Georgia at the Aviva in March, but with the level of opposition ramped up he found himself frequently getting over ran.
At 36 years of age it’s understandable that the Hearts man would start to get tired as the game went on but Ireland have no natural replacement for him in the squad.
It’s a game that was crying out for the calming influence of James McCarthy whose steadiness and knowledge of the position would have been perfect in combating the Swiss runners.
The Crystal Palace man is lacking match fitness but when he does return he will be a much needed addition to this Irish side.