Jonathan Walters equaliser on the 85th minute against Austria gave the Republic of Ireland back their advantage in the race for the 2018 World Cup.
Martin Hintergger’s opening goal in the first half led to the Republic of Ireland chasing the opposition up until the closing minutes of the game.
Walters equalised on the 85th minute after he chased the kind of long ball that has rescued Ireland in many a game for decades now – nudging Aleksandar Dragovic off, the ball fell to the forwards foot as he calmly volleyed it passed the Austrian number one Lindner to bring the game level.
The boys in green did enough to decrease the volume of criticism. However, when something does go wrong we’re here to point it out.
What went wrong?
Confidence was high heading into the game as Austria were missing a host of quality players – which was the main focus. That and the physicality of Martin O’Neill’s side.
Today’s display showed that Austria were far from weakened as it had been previously reported and that Ireland got it completely wrong.
Nobody can question the spirit of the Ireland squad or their fans. However they can question their approach. Was it wrong? Yes!
There was no flare, creativity or imagination to Ireland’s play – they made no attempt to play football – a direct game which then ventured into long ball territory. Many Irish players were unable to manage even the basics and panic hoofing was the answer to everything.
Although the method of hoofing is a tried and tested method used more often than not for Ireland and that somehow the side managed to score from it – its constant use and Walters lack of pace made it impossible to capitalise on any opportunity.
Stephen Ward’s long ball forward drifting out over the end line at the beginning of them set the tone for the rest match. They didn’t get the win but O’Neill’s side rallied around and put on a much better display in the second half.
The 1-1 draw means Ireland maintain their four-point lead over the Austrians in Group D. Although many would have settled for a draw at halftime, the side still lost two points which come the end of the tournament could turn out to be crucial.