Ireland suffered defeat for the first time of Mick McCarthy’s second tenure in charge as they fell to a 2-0 loss to Switzerland in Geneva.
The Boys in Green conceded in the first half thanks to an excellent strike from Switzerland’s Haris Seferovic as McCarthy’s side struggled throughout the opening 45.
In the second half Ireland improved, but with 15 minutes to go they saw captain Seamus Coleman sent off as he conceded a penalty for a handball, however Darren Randolph saved brilliantly from Ricardo Rodriguez.
Ireland pressed for the equaliser but with essentially the last kick of the game the Swiss second came as Shane Duffy turned the ball into his own net.
Here are five definitive conclusions as Ireland struggle against the Swiss.
1) It Was A Disastrous Night For Seamus Coleman
Plenty of the old guard struggled against Switzerland, James McClean had another poor game, and Jeff Hendrick struggled in the middle of the park, but this was a night to forget for Seamus Coleman.
The Irish captain was sloppy in possession throughout the game and was involved in a battle with Breel Embolo which he so often lost on the right hand side.
Coleman wasn’t his usually solid self in Geneva and his misery was ultimately compounded as he conceded a late penalty and saw red as Ireland were reduced to ten men.
He will now miss the crucial game against Denmark but it may finally provide Matt Doherty with the opportunity to impress under McCarthy.
2) Callum O’Dowda Was a Positive Introduction
The first half in Geneva gave the first half in Tbili a run for its money but the introduction of Callum O’Dowda was an excellent decision.
In the opening 20 minutes of the second half, O’Dowda’s technical prowess and ability on the ball gave Ireland a much-needed boost and made you question why this was his first bit of competitive action under McCarthy.
O’Dowda was a favourite under Martin O’Neill and often stood out in green when he played but never quite managed to work his way into a McCarthy team, although tonight did his chances of featuring in the crucial game against Denmark the world of good.
If he can get back to the form he showed last year he looks a much better option to either play wide or in the number ten role as opposed to Alan Browne or James McClean
3) It Was A Very Frustrating Night For Aaron Connolly
The country rejoiced when Aaron Connolly was included in the Irish starting XI against Switzerland but it was a disappointing night for the 19-year-old.
Up top with James Collins he struggled to form any real partnership with the style that Ireland played, over the top to the Luton Town man, hardly suiting the Brighton prospect.
He then moved up front on his own with two players flanking him from either side but again failed to influence the game only attempting six passes and having 13 touches in total.
The pitch and style was much different to what he has been used to in the Premier League with Brighton, but despite his difficult night, he looks to have a very promising future in green.
4) We Lacked A Cutting Edge In The Final Third
Throughout the game in Geneva, Ireland never really looked like they were in the game and barely created anything going forward.
Connolly struggled in the context of the game, while James Collins again failed to make an impact along with second half substitute Scott Hogan.
They weren’t helped however by their midfielders who – save for Callum O’Dowda – all struggled, with Jeff Hendrick and Alan Browne failing to make an impact in supporting the forwards.
The cutting edge simply wasn’t there and when you consider a creative player like Jack Byrne didn’t make the squad it makes it all the more frustrating for Ireland.
5) The Denmark Game, As Expected, Has Now Become Vital
This may have been a free hit for Ireland which we ultimately failed to take, but now the final game of the group becomes crucial.
Ireland take on Denmark at the Aviva Stadium next month knowing that the task is simple and that three points will see them book their place in Euro 2020.
The Danes have always been difficult opponents and Irish fans will still have nightmares of Christian Eriksen’s masterclass in the 5-1 defeat, but it’s a one off game for the Boys in Green to win.
Ireland will be without their captain Seamus Coleman which will be a blow but after the last two disappointing results, a one off game against Denmark to qualify is a massive positive.