The Republic of Ireland suffer a serious setback in their hopes to qualify for the knockout stages of Euro 2016. Fans of the Boys in Green, created their customary carnival atmosphere in the Stade de Bordeaux pre -match. These festivities were soon silenced by a ruthless Belgian performance. Irish hopes now rest on securing the needed victory against Italy in the final group game.
The Republic of Ireland Suffer A Serious Setback
Martin O’Neill’s team started the game in nervous fashion. The defensive setup of the side surrendered the initiative far too easily to the Belgians. For much of the first half the Red Devils probed with some slick passing moves. Kevin De Bruyne was the main conductor, as the Belgian machine started to finally kick into gear. The lion’s share of possession and meaningful attacking play came from Marc Wilmots team. Ireland were forced into playing aimless long balls to the lone striker Shane Long. At the half it seemed inevitable that a Belgian goal would come.
Ireland did come out with a more positive mindset straight after the break, but it was not enough. Irish players pushed forward in greater numbers and with far more purpose than anything seen in the first half. A crucial moment of the game occurred around the 48th minute. Shane Long went to challenge for a ball in the Belgian box, he was then kicked high about the head by Toby Alderweireld. If this happened anywhere else on the pitch, it would have been a foul. Turkish referee Cunyet Cakir waved play on despite Irish appeals. Belgium played on and started immediately counter attacking. Romelu Lukaku applied a neat finish to the sweeping counter and opened the scoring.
Responsibility to change the flow of the game was now thrust upon the disgruntled Irish. Bewilderingly, immediate tactical changes were not forthcoming from the Irish coaching team, and this apathy spurred the Belgians on. Two more Belgian goals one from Lukaku and the other from Axel Witsel sealed a comfortable win.
The Irish team face the daunting task of having to beat Italy in order to have any chance of progressing. In their favor is the fact that they know exactly what they have to do. The men in green need a cup-final like effort, in order to try and qualify out of the group phase.