The Republic of Ireland face an uphill task in France on Wednesday night to qualify for next year’s World Cup Finals, but the nation will be able to draw on a host of previous giant killing victories to provide some much needed confidence going into the decider.
A deflected Nicholas Anelka goal gives the French a precious one goal advantage heading into the Wednesday’s important decider which means Trappatoni’s side must score at the Stade de France to have any hope of qualifying.
It’s an uphill task but the men in green have caused many unexpected upsets in the past. Let’s draw some inspiration and take a look back at the Republic of Irelands five greatest Football moments…
(apologies for the poor video quality in some of the video links)
1. 1994 World Cup, USA – Italy 0 Republic of Ireland 1
The two nations came face-to-face for the second consecutive World Cup and this time Italy were one of the strongest sides in world football, making it all the way to the final only to lose on penalties to Brazil.
However, Italy didn’t have it all their own way in the group stages. Jack Charlton’s side, playing in only their second World Cup, secured one of the greatest shocks in football by defeating the Italians 1-0 in front of just over 75,000 people at the 1994 World Cup in Brazil.
A 12th minute Ray Houghton wonder goal was enough to give the Irish all three points and although the ‘men in green’ failed to win the group, they did progress to the last 16 against all odds before being knocked out by Holland.
Defeat for the Irish against a German side which had thumped eight goals past Saudi Arabia in their previous match would have given Mick McCarthy’s side an uphill task to qualify for the knockout stages of the 2002 World Cup
Germany took the lead thanks to a trademark header from striker Miroslav Klose and it looked as though the Germans were going to take all three points but Robbie Keane hadn’t read the script and scored a dramatic injury-time equaliser.
Keane raced onto a Niall Quinn flick and had the composure to take a touch before firing past the helpless Oliver Kahn to record a dramatic 1-1 draw with the mighty Germany which sent the Irish faithful into a state of ecstasy.
3. 1988 European Championships, Germany – Republic of Ireland 1 England 0
The Irish were very much the underdogs against a strong England side which included the likes of John Barnes, Gary Lineker and Bryan Robson but it was the men in green who stole a surprise victory against their old rivals.
Just six minutes into the match, Ray Houghton looped a header into the top left hand corner of the goal to cement himself as a national treasure as Ireland picked up three points in their first major competition.
It was always going to be a difficult task for the Republic of Ireland to qualify from a difficult World Cup qualifying group which included two of Europe’s finest football nations, Holland and Portugal.
However, impressive performance against away both nations set up a nervy encounter at home to Holland at Lansdowne Road, which if Mick McCarthy’s side were to win, would ultimately knock the Dutch out of the competition and give the Irish a strong chance of securing a play-off spot.
Despite playing with ten men after Gary Kelly’s sending off, Ireland pushed forward and a cross from the right by Steve Finnan found an unmarked Jason McAteer who made no mistake from close range and the Irish held out for a memorable victory over Holland.
5. 1990 World Cup, Italy – Republic of Ireland 1 Holland 1
This was the Republic of Irelands first World Cup appearance and the underdogs were feeling confident heading into their final group match against Holland knowing that a point would be enough to progress to the last 16 stage of the competition.
They fell behind thanks to a well taken Ruud Gullit goal in the 10th minute but refused to bow down and their determination was rewarded when Niall Quinn found the back of the net to keep their 1990 World Cup campaign alive.
The Ireland team performed beyond belief at the 1990 World Cup and progressed to the quarter-finals thanks to a penalty shoot-out victory over Romania, but were eventually sent packing by the Italians thanks to a Toto Scillachi goal.