Four talking points from Ireland's Euro 2020 heartache away to Slovakia

Fri, Oct 09 2020

The Republic of Ireland were left to rue missed opportunities in 90 minutes, extra time and penalties as the dream of playing in Euro 2020 on home soil evaporated in the mist of Bratislava.

Stephen Kenny summed up the feeling of an opportunity missed at full time when he said, “we deserved to win.” That may be pushing it slightly, but Ireland certainly didn’t deserve to lose.

Kenny’s charges impressed for much of the game in Bratislava – but it was a case of the same old heartbreak as the Euro 2020 dream died a cruel death.

Comfort on the ball

Right from the off Ireland looked more comfortable than they have looked in a long time on the ball and when in possession.

Not that long ago, Ireland were receiving regular criticism for almost being afraid of the ball with each player wanting to get rid of it as soon as they had it to feet.

Many of the Ireland players looked composed with the ball at their feet and more importantly they were hungry to get on the ball at every available opportunity.

Their passing has improved, their willingness to take risks and try that tricky pass also and their overall self-belief in their abilities is a real positive to take away from Bratislava.

Menacing McGoldrick

For a striker, his goal scoring exploits in the Green jersey have been poor to say the least but his overall contribution to the Ireland team at the moment is crucial.

The ball just sticks to his feet and his composure with his hold up play is invaluable in terms of bringing the wide players into the game.

It is never an easy task to play up front as a lone striker, but it doesn't really feel that way with the way McGoldrick plays his game.

He pops up all over the pitch and in a game of such high stakes to have a player who consistently produces such a high-level performance is invaluable.

The only slight worry is that when we find it so difficult to put the ball in the net, how much more challenging does that become when your lone striker spends the majority of the game deep up the pitch to hold up the ball?

Settled Duffy

Shane Duffy looked to be struggling in the Nations League double header with the new Stephen Kenny philosophy of playing football but the performance from the towering centre-half showed just how important he remains in this team.

Granted, when those two games took place, Duffy had only moved to Celtic that week and had struggled for game time with Brighton in the months leading up to his transfer.

One could forgive him for showing slight rust and cobwebs in his performances last month, but last night he was back to his best.

He rose highest to connect and clear two of the three successive corners when Slovakia were peppering the Irish goal.

Then, as the game wore on and the legs got tired, he pulled out a heroic last ditch clearance off the line to keep Ireland in the game.

Goalscorer Needed

Penalties are a total lottery but if anything, the performance showed the glaring need for a goalscorer in this team.

Ireland were the better team over the course of 120 minutes and if they had a natural goalscorer, the game would have been over before the first penalty was taken.

Last night's match played out the same way as many games had previously, plenty of possession, some good chances, some nice passages of play but at the end of it all there was no real cutting edge in front of goal.

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