Republic of Ireland 4 - 1 OmanTue, Sep 11 2012
After the lucky escape in Astana, things could only get better for Republic of Ireland and that’s exactly what happened as Giovanni Trapattoni’s experimental side ran out comfortable 4-1 winners over Oman in an international friendly on Tuesday evening in London.
First half goals from Shane Long, debutant Robbie Brady and captain Kevin Doyle set the Boys in Green on their way before Reading’s Alex Pearce sealed the victory with a late header after Oman had pulled a goal back.
The Irish boss admitted at his pre-match press conference that at least one of the Craven Cottage starters were playing for a place in the line-up for the clash with Germany next month and although he didn’t reveal where he sees the vacancy, it seems Trapattoni has a number of selection issues following this impressive display by the so called fringe players.
Ireland controlled possession from the outset and unlike previous games under the Italian tactician, they looked to get the ball down and pass with both Robbie Brady and Andy Keogh providing width while James McCarthy was hugely impressive in the engine room.
It took just three minutes for the Boys in Green to test Wigan ‘keeper Ali Al Habsi in the Oman goal as Kevin Doyle, just like he did in Astana for the equaliser, did well down the left and whipped in a low cross but on this occasion the goal bound effort was well saved by Al Habsi before Andy Keogh’s shot went inches wide of the far post.
It didn’t take long for the Boys in Green to break the deadlock as Robbie Brady’s inswinging free-kick was headed back across goal by Sean St.Ledger for Shane Long to head home from a couple of yards. The West Brom striker has fallen down the pecking order in recent times but his eight international goal would have caught the manager’s attention.
Trapattoni has been heavily criticised for his team selection and tactics since Euro 2012 but it seemed he adopted a different approach on Tuesday evening as the midfield duo of McCarthy and Meyler looked to get on the ball on every occasion and get their side going forward.
The lead was doubled half way through the first period as Robbie Brady let fly from just outside the box with a stinging right footed volley which game Al Habsi no chance. At this point the Oman defence was at sixes and sevens as Ireland dominated proceedings but Paul le Guen’s side did provide the Irish back four with some testing moments as David Forde looked comfortable between the post despite a shaky start.
Robbie Brady looked dangerous every time he got the ball and along with Doyle and Long, he was causing the opposition rear guard real problems and it was the Man United winger’s set piece which opened up the Oman defence yet again. His left footed free kick found the unmarked Doyle who had the simple task of finding the far corner from a couple of yards.
If there was ever a game to blood some new faces onto the international stage then this was proving to be the game and the likes of Coleman, Wilson, Meyler, McCarthy and Brady were doing their hopes of breaking into Trap’s plans no harm.
The second period wasn’t as comfortable for the Boys in Green but that was mainly thanks to the hordes of changes made to both sides as the game inevitably became a stop start affair and scrappy affair.
Trapattoni introduced Reading’s Alex Pearce for his debut while Darren Randolph, James McClean and Simon Cox were all given run outs before Oman pulled a goal back through a moment of lapsed concentration from a now changed Irish back line. Eid Al Farsi was given acres of space on the left and he didn’t need a second invitation to find the far corner with a neat finish with twenty minutes remaining.
The raft of changes continued on both sides as the closing stages petered out but the Gulf state did improve considerably and caused the Irish more problems. Ireland did however re-establish their three goal lead with just a few minutes remaining as Alex Pearce headed McClean’s corner home from ten yards.
It is difficult to judge the level of performance considering the opposition but there were plenty of positives to take from Ireland’s third game at Fulham’s Craven Cottage. The display of certain individuals will give Trapattoni food for thought before Germany visit the Aviva Stadium on 12th October in the Group C qualifier.
There is no doubt that bigger challenges lie ahead for Ireland but perhaps it was the sort of game that the Boys in Green needed in order to restore some confidence to the ranks after a difficult few months.
Republic of Ireland: David Forde (Darren Randolph 45’); Seamus Coleman, Stephen Kelly, Sean St.Ledger, Marc Wilson (Alex Pearce 45’); Robbie Brady (Aiden McGeady 70’), James McCarthy (Simon Cox 65’), David Meyler, Andy Keogh; Shane Long (Joey O’Brien 73’), Kevin Doyle (James McClean 61’)
Oman: Ali Al Habsi; Mohammad Al Balushi, Eid Al Farsi, Mohammad Al Musalami, Raed Saleh; Hussain Al Ghailani, Ahmed Al Muhaiyri, Saad Al Mukhaini, Adbullaziz Al Muqbali; Amad Al Hosni, Juma Al Mashri
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: James McCarthy