Rep. of Ireland – France
It is a rainy Tuesday night in northern Dublin when the Republic of Ireland welcome a rapidly declining French selection. Rather than the now more common playing field of Lansdowne Road, the game’s taking place at Dalymount Park, which is hosting its first international for 15 months.
Both Ireand and France had made somewhat indifferent starts to their respective qualifying campaigns. However, it has to be said that Ireland had played away to group favourites Spain and their rivals from the north of the island, so with a host of home matches still to come, their prospects were still not looking too bad. Whatmore, there was a footballing fever running through the population after their participation during the 1988 European Championships in West Germany, their first ever presence in a continental tournament. Ticket demand was great, and the allocation of 22,000 had easily sold out. In order to make the game available to as many as possible, Irish television had decided to broadcast live a friendly for the first time ever. It was to the day three years since Jackie Charlton had taken up the position as manager, and today was also the birthday for captain Mick McCarthy, who turned 30.
The French had towards the end of 1988 replaced Henri Michel, the man who had led them to glory in the 1984 European Championships on home soil, as well as bronze medals in the Mexico World Cup two years later, with legendary former player Michel Platini. The new boss’ first match in charge had been the 3-2 defeat in Belgrade against Yugoslavia in what was already their third qualifier in pool 5. The previous two had yielded a meagre 1-0 win at home to Norway and an embarrassing 1-1 draw at Cyprus. Their next qualifier, a crunch away fixture against Scotland, was four weeks away, and Platini was looking for answers here at the home of Dublin club Bohemians.
In the Irish’ 2-0 defeat against Spain in Seville, Charlton had had to make do without several regulars due to injuries. Things were looking better for the visit of France, and the manager would make six changes from that match. Dependable defenders such as Kevin Moran and David O’Leary were out injured, whereas Charlton had ousted young full-back Steve Staunton, midfielder John Sheridan, winger Tony Galvin and striker John Aldridge from the starting eleven. Still missing through injury was Everton’s fine winger Kevin Sheedy, so it had been expected that Norwich’ strong midfield man Andy Townsend would take up the position along the left hand side. In centre midfield, the ageing Liam Brady was expected to deliever, like he continued to do with his current club side West Ham in the English second division. The experienced Chris Hughton was re-installed at left-back. Paul McGrath came back into the side to partner McCarthy in the heart of the defence, and up front there was a re-call for yet another veteran in Frank Stapleton. Now plying his trade with French second tier outfit Le Havre, Stapleton was one of four remaining players from these two’s last encounter: A 3-2 home win in the qualification ahead of the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Stapleton, then of Manchester United, had got himself on the score sheet that night in front of more than 53,000 people at Lansdowne Road. Hughton, Whelan and Brady were the other survivors, and another, O’Leary, would possibly also have featured had he not been injured tonight. The French team carried no players from that night, though the current manager had been their captain.
Since the 3-2 defeat in Belgrade, Platini had rung the changes, bringing six new faces into the starting line-up. The biggest talking point was probably the re-call for veteran defender Patrick Battiston. Infamously remembered for having been slaughtered by West German ‘keeper ‘Toni’ Schumacher during the semi-final of the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Battiston had not featured for les Bleus since a 2-1 defeat against, exactly, West Germany in a Berlin friendly a year and a half earlier. Platini saw him as the ideal man to keep tight their rather inexperienced central defence, and judging from the players in the starting eleven, Battiston was favourite to slot into a libero position. Both the two 20 year old centre-backs Alain Roche and Basile Boli, who had started in Yugoslavia, were out of the side. The same fate had occured to midfielders Marcel Dib, Jean-Marc Ferreri and veteran Jean Tigana, as well as debutant winger Christian Perez. Platini brought another 20 year young central defender into the line-up in Sochaux’ Franck Silvestre. Sochaux were having a fine season domestically, and the promising Silvestre had won a lot of praise for his contributions. He was one of two starting French debutants in Dublin, the other being Montpellier’s strong libero Laurent Blanc, who would have to make do with an unfamiliar midfield position here. Monaco’s defender Luc Sonor was another player called back into the starting eleven, winning his seventh cap, and in midfield Platini made sure Toulouse’ Jean-Philippe Durand got his third international. Up top, Stéphane Paille would this time around be accompanied by a potentially lethal forward in Jean-Pierre Papin, although the Marseille man had struggled somewhat when playing for the national team, only notching three goals in his previous 17 attempts.
An original 18 man squad had been picked, which included goalkeeper Bruno Martini (a certainty on the bench), midfielder Thierry Laurey, winger Christian Perez, as well as forward Daniel Bravo. We can not say for sure who made it to the substitutes’ bench at Dalymount Park.
There were said to be a few English first division managers present, and Aston Villa’s Graham Taylor and Liverpool’s Kenny Dalglish were among them.
The conditions appeared to favour the boys in green, with a lot of noise generated from their support in the packed Dalymount Park stands. The ground was old school, and carried a great deal of intimacy, with fans almost on top of the players. In charge of the match would be Welshman John Lloyd, appearing in his first ever international. This was the two countries’ eleventh meeting overall, and they had so far triumphed on four occasions each. France’ only win in Ireland had happened almost 35 years earlier.
Rep. of Ireland (4-4-2)
|1 Packie Bonner||28||Celtic|
|2 Chris Morris||25||Celtic|
|3 Chris Hughton||30||Tottenham|
|4 Mick McCarthy (c)||30||Celtic|
|5 Paul McGrath||29||Manchester United|
|6 Liam Brady||32||West Ham|
|7 Ronnie Whelan||27||Liverpool|
|8 Ray Houghton||27||Liverpool|
|9 Frank Stapleton||sub 77′||32||Le Havre|
|10 Tony Cascarino||26||Millwall|
|11 Andy Townsend||25||Norwich|
|12 John Aldridge||on 77′||30||Liverpool|
|David Kelly||23||West Ham|
|1 Joël Bats||32||Paris Saint-Germain|
|2 Manuel Amoros (c)||27||Monaco|
|3 Sylvain Kastendeuch||25||Metz|
|4 Luc Sonor||26||Monaco|
|5 Patrick Battiston||31||Monaco|
|6 Franck Silvestre||sub 74′||20||Sochaux|
|7 Jean-Philippe Durand||28||Toulouse|
|8 Franck Sauzée||23||Marseille|
|9 Stéphane Paille||sub h-t||23||Sochaux|
|10 Jean-Pierre Papin||25||Marseille|
|11 Laurent Blanc||sub 68′||23||Montpellier|
|12 Alain Roche||on 74′||21||Bordeaux|
|13 Philippe Vercruysse||on 68′||27||Marseille|
|14 José Touré||on h-t||27||Monaco|
|x Bruno Martini||27||Auxerre|
The home side came out in their traditional 4-4-2. To a lot of people’s surprise, though, Jackie Charlton had decided to put Liam Brady out on the left side of midfield, sticking Andy Townsend in the centre with Ronnie Whelan. They did thus lack the kind of natural width provided by, for example, Kevin Sheedy, as Brady would occasionally seek in field rather than stick to his flank.
The visitors had deployed a 5-3-2, with two man-markers ahead of libero Battiston. Notice that captain Amoros played to the left in defence, as opposed to his customary right-back position. At the heart of their defence, Sonor was looking after Stapleton, whilst debutant Silvestre was tasked with looking after the big Cascarino. Sauzée sat at the heart of the midfield, with Blanc (to his right) and Durand running off him. Up front were Paille and Papin, with the former slightly more withdrawn than his partner. Both full-backs would try to get forward when France were in possession.
Whereas the home side had changed nothing around tactically nor personnel wise during the break, the French had brought Touré on for striker Paille, seeing them switch from 5-3-2 to 5-4-1. Papin on his own up front. Their midfield seemed a tight unit, where substitute Touré was to the right, though not wide right. Sauzée was still the deepest, but just ahead of him and slightly to his left was Durand. Blanc, who had played in a central right role in the midfield central three during the first half, was now operating in left midfield.
Interestingly, when Platini replaces Blanc with Vercruysse, it is Durand who will take up the left-sided midfield role previously occupied by Blanc, and Vercruysse coming into Durand’s position as centre left. Later Roche comes on to replace debutant Silvestre in the heart of the defence, and he takes over responsibility for Cascarino. When the Irish make their only substitution of the evening, it is Aldridge coming on for Stapleton up front, and this will just see Sonor switching from Stapleton to the newly arrived striker.
On a rainy night in Dublin, to slightly alter the lyrics of a well-known tune by Irish folk rock band The Pogues, the home side were looking to set the first 45 minutes of football in action. They were up against a formidable opponent, yet France’ status in international football had declined rapidly since they had won the European Championships on home soil just over four and a half years earlier. The Irish knew they were up against a team which were lacking somewhat in international experience, though with a few notable exceptions. The home side themselves included a debutant in Andy Townsend, yet he was the only player of theirs below double cap figures. Big striker Tony Cascarino pokes the ball to veteran marksman Frank Stapleton, and the game’s commenced.
It is by now a famous Irish footballing recipe to aim lofty passes towards towering centre-forwards. The French knew what would be coming and were prepared. They had chosen to man-mark both Irish strikers, with Luc Sonor giving attention to the ageing and perhaps no longer quite as mobile Stapleton, whereas debutant Franck Silvestre would be up against the super strong Cascarino. Silvestre was not the tallest of centre-backs, yet he appeared to be equipped with a lot of agility and spring, and he would soon prove to be a menace to the normally dangerous Millwall forward. Sonor, sporting a pony tail, would not give Stapleton much room, and behind them they had the luxury of veteran Patrick Battiston, who had been recalled after a long time away from international football. Manager Platini was well aware of what he would get from his old team mate, and as an experienced head to knit a young central defensive pairing together, Battiston did seem the perfect choice with his calmness, presence and attitude.
France are able to slow proceedings down early on, and do not allow the home side to get into their stride with long balls towards the front two. Another prominent feature in the Irish’ play is usually that of their wide men, where in particular the tenacious Ray Houghton would cause a lot of stir in an opponent’s defence with his darting runs both along his flank and also diagonally through the heart of a defence. Houghton’s unpredictability would usually be a great asset to Ireland, but the French were not allowing him a lot of space, with veteran full-back Manuel Amoros, their captain, assigned to deal with him. Amoros had been playing at right-back for most of his career, but was no stranger to switching sides. Being part of a five man defence, he would also have to participate inside enemy territory, and already within the opening ten minutes Battiston’s right foot was twice called upon to try and pick out the galloping Amoros in a left wing position. The ease with which Battiston struck these 45 yard passes was a joy to behold, his precision a work of art in itself. Irish right-back Chris Morris by then knew he had to be aware of Amoros moving forward. It would take the clever head of home skipper Mick McCarthy to head the ball away from danger from Amoros’ cross into the box.
It was widely expected that rookie Townsend would be playing out wide on the left hand side, a position normally kept for Everton’s fine winger Kevin Sheedy. Having missed out on Ireland’s 2-0 defeat away to Spain in the qualification a few months earlier, Sheedy was again absent. Townsend had done well in this position for his club side Norwich, who were the surprise package in the English first division. However, right from the word go it was apparent that the left sided midfield berth had gone to Liam Brady, with Townsend operating next to the delightfully talented Ronnie Whelan in the centre of the Irish midfield. This meant that both Townsend and Brady were put in roles different to them than what they were normally performing in for their club sides, and whereas Townsend would never look out of place in the centre with his physical attributes, Brady did seem an odd pick for a wide position. Hardly boasting a lot of pace, the former Serie A veteran could easily be slowing down any potentially quick Irish counter. As it were, Brady would not stick to the sideline like an old-fashioned winger, but at times come inside and provide an option for the other midfielders to pass the ball to. Brady’s left foot was as sweet as they came, and once he was given a couple of seconds, he would be able to feed any team mate with a well weighted pass. However, with the not always forward-bursting Chris Hughton behind him at left-back, the Irish would lose an attacking dimension as they would not cause much threat to French right-back Sylvain Kastendeuch.
France will have been boosted by the way they were nullifying the threat from the home side early on. By taking the pace out of the game, they would frustrate the home side’s players and the crowd alike, and they would look to their two strikers to raise concern in the Irish backline. Jean-Pierre Papin was a top marksman with Marseille, but had perhaps not been firing on all cylinders in national team colours yet. Alongside him there was the industrious Stéphane Paille, who would put a solid shift in, but who also seemed to lack the ability to get in behind a defence due to a lack of pace and technical ability. However, for their forwards to shine, France would need the midfield players to assist. At the rear sat the figure of 23 year old Marseille ace Franck Sauzée, who, like Battiston behind him, had the ability to direct diagonal passes with great precision. Being up against an aggressive Irish midfield duo in Whelan and Townsend, though, Sauzée was rarely given much time to perform such passes, and they would have to look to the two players who were operating either side of him in Laurent Blanc, to his right, and Jean-Philippe Durand. Blanc, a tall presence, did not seem a great match with the increasingly heavy pitch, as one could see through the course of the game that the energy got zapped out from him. Possessing fine technical ability and an eye for a pass, however, Blanc did not seem out of place in a position where he hardly featured for his club side, the talented Montpellier team. Durand was a player full of running, and he based a lot of his play on energy. Platini had hoped that the Toulouse man could form a partnership with Amoros along their left hand side, but in all honesty Durand did not contribute a great deal, at least not in a creative sense.
With five and a half years of international experience and winning his 44th cap, France ‘keeper Joël Bats was a well respected individual. He had played every one of their five matches in the ’84 triumph on home soil, and likewise in the Mexico World Cup two years later, where the French had won the bronze medals. When called upon, he would make maximum use of his concentration levels, acting almost as a sweeper behind libero Battiston. Within the opening 20 minutes alone, he would come to the deep left of his area and boot the ball clear ahead of Houghton, and then he would bravely come and punch a high ball just ahead of Stapleton on another occasion. There appeared to be no fear in his play. At the other end, the visitors had been unable to work Packie Bonner so far. The Irish defence was well marshalled by captain Mick McCarthy, and despite the absence of such central defenders as David O’Leary and Kevin Moran, they looked so assured with the extremely dependable Paul McGrath as McCarthy’s partner. McCarthy was usually the one from the back who would aim long towards their centre-forwards, whereas McGrath would often look for a midfield option. Paul McGrath ticked all the boxes for a very intelligent player. His positioning was second to none, and he carried extreme pace to add yet another dimension to the Irish rear line. Jackie Charlton had played him in a midfield anchor role earlier, and he had done well enough, but he was a central defender by trade. He also showed a great deal of sportsmanship when Paille came in late on him deep inside the Irish half. Rather than falling for the temptation to stay down after a heavy challenge, McGrath quickly got back onto his feet and shook Paille’s hand. The match seemed to be played in great spirit among players with both teams.
Despite a lack of goalscoring opportunities, one had to appreciate the tactical battle between the sides. France’ five man strong back unit did well to cope with the aerial threat from the home side, and it was a joy to behold how the youthful zest of Silvestre went about his job in keeping Cascarino quiet. Sonor, who was doing the same job on Stapleton, did not have to focus so much on high balls, but did very well against the Le Havre forward whenever called into action. Both Silvestre and Sonor also seemed capable on the ball, but they were aware of their place in the hierarchy, always distributing the ball onwards for either Battiston or Sauzée rather than try to mount attacks of their own.
The crowd is fairly subdued due to the lack of threat from the home side, but they try to get Dalymount Park going just as the first half is reaching its halfway stage. The stadium’s famous for its roar, but on this occasion it seems to backfire, as France will pick up Chris Morris’ feeble forward pass in the direction of Houghton and rather mount an attack of their own. Amoros spots the intelligent run of Blanc, who takes the captain’s through ball just ahead of McGrath’s despairing tackle. Rushing through on goal with McCarthy breathing down his neck, he elects to shoot from an angle inside the penalty area, though his right foot effort is no match for the reliable Bonner, who gets down low to save it. The attack would show why the home side had to be so alert, as the French had done their utmost to take the pace out of the game, but then all of a sudden seizing on an opportunity to break through. Five minutes after, on the 31 minute mark, the home side have their first attempt on goal when Brady connects with his left foot from the edge of the area after Houghton had got into a crossing position from the right. However, Brady can only slice his effort on the greasy turf, and the ball skids low to the left of Bats’ goal frame.
At the break, the teams are locked at 0-0, having had one decent opportunity each. The visitors had been able to stifle the home side, leaving the crowd frustrated at the lack of goal threat. By the sound of the whistle, there’s a few boos even echoing from the stands. Changes in store for the second half?
For the start of the second half, the French had made a substitution: Attacking midfielder/forward José Touré was on for striker Paille. The latter had not been showing any signs of injury towards the end of the first half, although he had fallen victim to a heavy Whelan challenge after he himself had dished out likewise to McGrath. Possibly, the substitution was just Platini wanting to test out a new player. And Touré would slot into Paille’s forward role, surely?
The home side reappeared with their starting eleven intact. They had not got into their usual stride in the opening half, and were looking to redeem themselves in the second period. And did they not look like there was a bit more urgency about them early on? Brady came inside and rode a couple of challenges, keeping the ball tight to his feet, and he had both Whelan and Townsend near him, adding to the Irish midfield presence. Brady’s level of close control brought the crowd back to their feet, and the sounds of appreciation seemed to breed belief back into the Irish team. During the first half, it had been the French who had stroked the ball carefully among themselves. Now it was the hosts to do likewise. It soon turned out that Touré came into an attacking midfield position, and not as a partner up front for Papin. This would leave Papin more isolated. It did seem an odd choice considering how well the French had done during the first 45. Though, with Scotland a month away, it was Platini’s prerogative to try out various formations. Whilst they had been at 5-3-2 in the first half, they now were sporting a 5-4-1, with Blanc moving into a left-sided role, having operated to the right of the balancing Sauzée before the break. Touré came into the role vacated by Blanc, though in a more advanced position. Durand continued to the left of centre where he had been from kick-off.
It is the visitors who arrive at the first attempt on goal in the second half, when Touré gets above McCarthy from Kastendeuch’ right wing corner after only a couple of minutes. The substitute can not get much power behind his header, and Bonner can collect comfortably just underneath his crossbar, but for someone to outjump McCarthy as easy as that suggested that the French in Touré had a player well capable of causing stir in the air. Would this be something that France would take advantage of? Touré would also be a presence within the French’ own penalty area, guiding away with his head a couple of Irish free-kicks into the box. With Papin now on his own up front, though, one did feel that France suffered as a unit from not playing with two strikers. Both Papin and Paille had worked hard to close down Irish supply lines during the first half, but it was a far easier task for the home side to feed the ball forward from their defenders with only Papin, often in vain, giving chase.
The event with Brady coming into the centre circle to show off his close control would not be a regular occurence. However, the Irish midfield would gradually seize control, and it was the Liverpool duo of Whelan and Houghton who grew into the game. Houghton had often come out second best to Amoros in the first half, but seemed to play more advanced after the break. He would also time and again run diagonally across the French defence, both on and off the ball, to cause havoc, something which Ray Houghton did really well at the peak of his career. Whelan, who had had a solid if not spectacular first half in the centre of the pitch, was starting to be the midfield alpha male, showing his omni-presence. When Whelan was on his game, he had everything you could wish for in a central midfielder, perhaps with the exception of a higher goal ratio. He carried a swagger about him. He could pass, he could tackle, he was box to box, and he was alright in the air, despite being of modest size. With him getting the upper hand on the French midfielders, Ireland were pushing their visitors back. Despite their possession, though, they were struggling to create opportunities. One did come Houghton’s way after Bats had been heavily challenged for a high ball into the area by Stapleton. From an angle, Houghton got to the ball with his right foot, but despite Bats being out of position, the winger could not take advantage as his shot went well wide of target.
The battles between the Irish centre-forwards and the two young French centre-backs were still something to relish. Stapleton did seem improved after the break, but he was given a run for his money by Monaco’s Sonor, who rarely gave him a moment’s peace. Stapleton’s still got his aerial strength, but is lost for pace. He would struggle to make a great impact. The same could be said for his partner Cascarino, who was finding 20 year old Silvestre a great challenge. Silvestre was equal to most of what Cascarino did in the air, and he really had a lot of confidence for someone so young, and for a player making his international debut. With Houghton willing to make diagonal runs, Amoros was initially unsure as to whether he should follow him across or not; he did so on the first occasion. Subsequently, Platini would have none of that. Houghton would be dealt with by whomever was the nearest. Sauzée, at the deep end of the French midfield, would typically keep an eye on the schemer.
Blanc appeared a misfit as a left-sided midfielder. Not that he was playing as an outright winger, but he was definitely to Durand’s left. The pitch certainly did not favour him, but despite that, he did contribute with one delicious flick to let Amoros across the halfway line and feed the eager Durand down the left hand channel. The midfielder’s cross lacked precision, however, and there had only been Papin to aim at anyway, as Touré had been unable to get forward in time for the cross. The ball went only as far as to Brady, who seemed almost arrogant when in possession. The Irish probably should have made more use of him, but unfortunately he was tucked away on the left wing too often. It was a waste of his talent to play him wide, and especially with the home side on top after the break, it might have been a good idea to switch Brady and the less creative Townsend.
The visitors are being pegged back inside their own half as the second half wears on. The Irish are playing with a fine level of enthusiasm, buoyed by their fanatic support. When the visitors regain possession, they have a long way forward, and with the tenacity shown by the home team’s players, they will usually surrender possession around the halfway line. Their confidence appears to have gone, and without having two forwards to aim at and to help relieve pressure off their rearguards, they do seem lost for ideas, their midfield lacking that creative spark. Sure, players like Durand and Touré may be able to run, but when on the ball they are not the masters of that intelligent final pass. Not that either French midfielder gets far enough up the pitch to be able to look for runs from their now sole centre-forward. The lack of width is another problem. Blanc is not keen to utilise the space near the left hand touchline, so it will be left to Amoros to make use of this. The French captain had come forward on a few occasions during the opening 45, but after the break his forays into the Irish half are limited. The same could be said for Kastendeuch along the opposite flank. It is almost baffling how big a decline their second half performance is compared to the first. In trying to rectify the problem, Platini takes Blanc, whose legs are weary by now, off and replaces him with Philippe Vercruysse. The Marseille midfielder is another relatively solidly built player, and with the pitch by now starting to look cut and fairly heavy, the odds do not seem to favour players of larger frame. As it is, Vercruysse slots into Durand’s position just to the left of Sauzée, with Durand moving into the role previously occupied by Blanc. Just prior to this substitution, the now dominant Whelan had had a left-footed effort from 20 yards saved to his left by Bats. It had been a rare attempt on target despite the home team’s supremacy.
There are a couple of minutes after Vercruysse’s introduction where France look to be pushing their entire team a bit higher, and they produce one of their best attacks in the second half in a move involving Sauzée and Touré, with the latter feeding Kastendeuch in a right wing position. The full-back can not get a clean hit on his cross, but Papin is alert, sensing that the ball may reach his whereabouts just outside the penalty area, and as he backtracks a little to steady himself for the shot, he fires one low, straight at Bonner. The surface is a difficult one for a ‘keeper, and so the Celtic stopper can not hold onto the ball, and with Touré looking to pounce, Townsend has to make a wild clearance and put the ball behind for a French right wing corner. It had been an opportunity of similar stature to the one Whelan had had for the hosts earlier in the half. With 16 minutes remaining, Platini makes his third and, as it turned out, final substitution. The two managers had agreed beforehand that they could make use of four substitutes each; such were the rules for friendlies. The impressive Silvestre came off to make way for another young centre-back in Bordeaux’ Alain Roche. Roche had been part of a young French defence in their qualifying defeat in Belgrade last time around. He would resume Silvestre’s role as man-marker of Cascarino.
The home side made their first substitution with English born John Aldridge coming on in place of Stapleton, who moments before being taken off had had a shooting opportunity inside the French penalty area. Unfortunately, the ball had bounced awkwardly for him as he was taking aim, and he was miles off target. Stapleton had had a good battle with Sonor all afternoon, and it would be Aldridge now to make himself acquainted with the Monaco defender. There had been a few shouts for Charlton to bring a quicker forward into the fray, and West Ham’s David Kelly had been a possible option. However, he had not had the best of seasons so far, and was down in the pecking order. Although Aldridge was struggling to hit the back of the net at international level, the crowd were still hoping to see him pose a different kind of threat than that of the departed Stapleton.
Towards the end of the game there are a few tackles flying in, but there is no malice from either team, and the match is played in fine spirits throughout. Townsend had scythed Durand down on one occasion, but it was more a result of the difficult, heavy pitch than anything else. Roche did not appear as competent in his handling of Cascarino as Silvestre had done, and as a result, the burly Millwall forward won a couple of headers from huge punts up field by goalkeeper Bonner. And he also got his head on a cross from Brady’s left foot, but despite making Bats work, the striker had been ajudged to be offside. A scoreless draw was not an unfair outcome in the end.
France had the upper hand during the opening half, when they were not afraid to keep possession and bring men into play inside the home side’s half. They started with two forwards, and they managed to curb the home side’s enthusiasm. This left the crowd frustrated, but it would change in the second half, when the visitors elected to sit deeper after taking a forward off at the interval. Despite a strong performance from Whelan in the Irish midfield, they were unable to unlock the solid French defence, where Battiston was doing a good job as libero, and with their two man-markers keeping check on the normally strong Irish strikers. There had only been a couple of opportunities at either side, and 0-0 was probably a fair result.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND:
1 Bonner 6.7
2 Morris 6.8
3 Hughton 6.7
4 McCarthy 6.9
5 McGrath 7.0
6 Brady 6.8
7 Whelan 7.3
8 Houghton 7.0
9 Stapleton 6.5
(12 Aldridge -)
10 Cascarino 6.6
11 Townsend 6.8
1 Bats 7.0
2 Amoros 6.9
3 Kastendeuch 6.8
4 Sonor 7.0
5 Battiston 7.2
6 Silvestre 7.2
(12 Roche -)
7 Durand 6.6
8 Sauzée 6.7
9 Paille 6.8
(14 Touré 6.7)
10 Papin 6.7
11 Blanc 6.6
(13 Vercruysse -)