|Rep of Ireland
A third successive Irish home tie and the third in the last six weeks. Hungary were yet undefeated, both in the qualifying group and indeed against Ireland head to head: from eight matches the Hungarians had won four. They did however know what a massive task awaited them on arrival in Dublin, which once again would drape its national stadium in green, white and orange, the colours of the Irish tricolor. With Spain and Malta suffering defeat at Lansdowne Road in the previous weeks, expectations were once again high for the home side to collect another two points in their quest for participation at Italia ’90. Last week’s 2-0 against Malta had taken the Irish above today’s opponents, who would suffer a major setback to their qualification hopes if they were to return home empty-handed.
Ireland would have to make do without suspended midfielder Ronnie Whelan, but his replacement Andy Townsend had just completed a fine season with Norwich City, who had finished fourth in the first division table. Central defender Mick McCarthy, who had featured against Spain but not against Malta, was yet again absent. Veteran Arsenal defender David O’Leary was, however, a more than capable deputee. Up front, John Aldridge would once again go in search of his first ‘proper’ goal for the Republic, with his only strike in the national team tricot so far a goal in a friendly against Tunisia. Incredibly, this was the otherwise so prolific Liverpool forward’s 25th international appearance.
The Magyar’s would yet again show some tinkering. Bicskei Bertalan had seen draws in both of his previous qualification encounters, and it was a big ask from him and his team to try and get anything from the trip to Ireland. Luckily, Lajos Détári was again available, though the manager would have to cope without forward József Kiprich, but the hugely inspiring re-call for veteran defender cum midfielder Imre Garaba will have been a very pleasing addition. This was Garaba’s first inclusion since the 1-0 win against Northern Ireland last October. There was also no Ervin Kovács in the squad. The defensive midfielder had done reasonably well both against Ireland at home and in the disappointing 1-1 draw with Malta. Since then, Hungary had lost heavily in a friendly against Italy on neutral ground in Switzerland, and the 4-0 defeat will have given Bicskei grounds for concern. Honvéd forward Kálmán Kovács, who had played once during the disastrous 1986 World Cup, had featured against Italy, but was again left out of the squad for Dublin. Still without Sándor Sallai eligible for selection, Hungary had to make do with midfielder István Kozma as a make shift right back. The game were to take place on the day of birth for central defender László Disztl, who on his 27th anniversary would again feature alongside brother and goalkeeper Péter.
Norwegian Egil Nervik, only 32 years of age, would referee his very first World Cup qualifying tie. His only previous experience of officiating in an international qualifier had come a year and a half earlier, when he had overseen Belgium’s 3-0 home win against Luxembourg, a fixture which had been part of the qualification programme ahead of the 1988 European Championships.
Republic of Ireland (4-4-2)
|1 Packie Bonner
|2 Chris Hughton
|3 Steve Staunton
|4 David O’Leary
|5 Kevin Moran (c)
|6 Andy Townsend
|7 Paul McGrath
|8 Ray Houghton
|9 John Aldridge
|10 Tony Cascarino
|11 Kevin Sheedy
|12 Liam Brady
|13 Chris Morris
|14 Tony Galvin
|15 Niall Quinn
|16 Gerry Peyton
|1 Péter Disztl
|2 István Kozma
|3 József Keller
|4 László Disztl
|5 József Fitos
|6 Imre Garaba
|7 Ferenc Mészáros
|8 Zoltán Bognár
|9 Imre Boda
|10 Lajos Détári (c)
|11 Tibor Csehi
|12 György Bognár
|13 István Vincze
|14 Attila Herédi
|15 József Gregor
|16 István Gulyás
With no Whelan in midfield, Charlton has to rely on Townsend raising his game. This he does. The Norwich man is having a dominant performance in the centre of the pitch, as he is striking fear into his opponents, most notably Détári, as well as striking passes right, left and centre, and going on surging runs with the ball at his feet. He is simply unplayable this afternoon in Dublin. The extreme tactics of long balls from the back, where Moran will again be diagnoally searching for Cascarino’s head from somewhere inside the centre circle, is working just as well against Hungary as against Malta, and though Z Bognár might be a slightly stronger and physically better equipped footballer than the Maltese Silvio Vella, Cascarino wins 19 out of 20 aerial battles.
Hungary line up very defensively, with the seasoned Garaba finally back in the side, playing at the heart of defence and never too far away from Aldridge. He adds more security to the Hungarian back line, and both L Disztl and Keller seem to benefit, both probably turning in their most assured displays so far of the qualifiers. Fitos in the holding midfield role is proving a very tenacious player, and he does seem a step up, at least in harrying an opponent, from E Kovács. However, out wide in midfield both Mészáros (right) and Csehi are more or less passengers, leaving both Détári and in particular Boda isolated.
Both teams made full use of their substitiution opportunities by bringing on two men: veteran Brady was brought on for striker Aldridge, meaning Ireland switched to a 4-3-3, where McGrath was sitting behind the West Ham player and Townsend in midfield, with Houghton and Sheedy on each side of Cascarino in forward roles. Full-back Morris was drafted in to sure up in McGrath’s holding role towards the end. Hungary’s two substitutes were of an attacking character, and they both contributed to raising the visitors’ game for a few minutes: Vincze joined Boda up front, whereas Bognár seemed to take to the right of midfield, although not completely wide. It would have been him and the improved Détári just ahead of Fitos, and there also appeared to be a positional switch at the back, with Garaba dropping into the libero role, with L Disztl alongside Z Bognár at centre half.
The home side made only the one enforced change from the previous weekend’s clash against Malta, with the suspended Whelan replaced in central midfield by Townsend. Ireland’s opening three away matches had yielded two precious points in Belfast and in Budapest, but no goals. On home turf, though, they had yet to concede, and were considered favourites against Hungary despite never having defeated them in the past. Once again they were expected to hit it long for Cascarino, and these tactics were always a fear factor for any team Ireland were up against. Around the big Millwall centre forward there were quick and nimble players like Sheedy and particularly Houghton, who both would give chase to the Hungarian full-backs.
Hungary lined up with László Disztl as sweeper, with Zoltán Bognár being issued with the unenviable task of trying to mark Cascarino. In his 73rd international veteran Garaba would be seen in a central defensive capacity, probably not an outright man marker, but often attending to Aldridge. This meant Fitos taking up the holding midfielder’s role, just behind Détári, who would try to spread passes out wide to Mészáros on the right or Honvéd man Csehi on the left. The latter was making only his second international appearance, having made his bow in the 3-0 friendly win at home to Switzerland two months earlier. Boda, who was making a name for himself as a goalscorer in Greek football, would do his best Kiprich impression up front.
The Irish did not let down anyone who was expecting a long ball show. Just like before they would aim for Cascarino’s head, and his immense physique would be too much to cope with for Szombathely’s Bognár. This would result in a lot of goal mouth action, although with a combination of a little luck and poor finishing from the home side, Péter Disztl kept a clean sheet during the opening half an hour. There had been one opportunity for the visitors, which was when libero Disztl had joined the attack and played a one-two with Mészáros, only to fire straight at Bonner from 18 yards. Other than that, they did little in an attacking sense. Playing with five at the back and a holding midfielder, it did seem quite clear what the Hungarians were looking for: a draw would benefit them. However, they could ill afford defeat, as they still had to play Spain twice, an opponent which Ireland had already battled it out with home and away. Once McGrath had put the Irish ahead just after half an hour, Hungary’s road to Italy just became worryingly long.
The goal was another fine art of simplicity, though it came from a cross rather than a big hit up field from the back: Staunton combined with Sheedy to get to the byline, had his cross headed out by Garaba, but only as far as to McGrath, whose low, predatory right-footed shot crept in by Disztl’s right hand post. A similair effort had gone just wide from his left boot earlier in the half. The lead was no less than the Irish deserved. They outmuscled Hungary in every department, and in midfield Townsend ran the show with some heavy runs and beautifully executed long passing. He also seemed to psyche out Détári from going into challenges with him. Him and McGrath were so powerful in that engine room that the visitors hardly posed any threat to the Irish backline. Houghton was probably less involved than he had been against Spain (where he had been voted ‘man of the match’) and against Malta, but he was still making sure Hungary’s left back Keller was kept busy. Jackie Charlton still didn’t seem quite how to get the best out of Sheedy, who was again a little quiet down his left flank. Young Staunton kept being an enigma behind him, so it wasn’t like the Irish left hand side was left blank. And Boda appeared to be no match for the two seasoned Irish centre halfs. Then again the Hungary lone striker lacked support, as Détári never got near enough to him to help him pose a threat.
Aldridge had become almost the butt of jokes in an Ireland shirt. He was being kept an eye on by both Garaba and László Disztl, and only once came within shooting distance: The latter of the two said Hungarian defenders slipped and allowed the Liverpool forward to fire at Péter Disztl, who parried the ball away to safety as it hit him at a perfect height. Ireland’s style of play was again completely different to what Aldridge was used to from his club side, and he did seem to be low on confidence, not even getting into a lot of good positions. There had been some criticism not only against Aldridge, but also against Ireland as a whole, as they were not scoring an awful lot of goals. Despite Cascarino’s robust presence, he was not always a great goal threat, and again in the first half against Hungary it was the midfielders who would most often end up with the Irish goalscoring opportunities.
Hungary’s Fitos was having an industrious first half, and also seemed to fall out of favour with Houghton. The two clashed on a couple of occasions, and the Irish livewire, appearing in his 60th match of the season, made it very clear to the visitors’ holding midfielder what he thought of him when Fitos had gone down rather easily in a challenge. The referee was doing a good job in letting the game flow, and despite his rather tender age seemed confident in the noisy surroundings at Lansdowne Road. The half’s only yellow card fell to Townsend for kicking the ball away after Cascarino had, according to the referee, fouled Fitos. An Irish half time lead was well deserved.
The Irish come out after the break all guns blazing, and within two and a half minutes of the restart they could so easily have been two in front, when Moran’s left with a header from five yards out, only to bounce it off the grass and into the arms of Disztl. The pace soon dies down and the next 13-14 minutes are a scrappy affair, although it seems unlikely that Hungary will force their way back onto level terms; at times this is men against boys. Especially out wide do Hungary seem lightweight, with neither Mészáros on the right nor Csehi on the left able to stamp their authority on proceedings. Houghton’s engine becomes more evident the longer the game goes on. All of a sudden, though, Détári finds a bit of space to open up a couple of long distance passes, both aimed towards the right, where first Boda then Kozma are the targets. However, the Irish back four are never in trouble. Bicskei needs to try and shake things up as the game enters the final quarter.
The match’s first substitution comes when György Bognár, perhaps a surprise omission from the starting eleven, comes on for Csehi. We’re not unused to seeing Bognár in a central role, but this appears to be a straight swap for the Honvéd flank man. And do we se signs that Hungary are coming more into the game? It does appear so, even if they are still struggling to create openings. No sooner than having heard a great roar around the ground for Liam Brady, who is doing a bit of warming-up along the touchline, Bicskei throws his last dice when taking off Mészáros for István Vincze. The Serie A forward with Lecce goes into Mészáros’ wide right role. He is perhaps more of a forward type than the player whom he replaced, and the idea seems to be to offer the still rather lonesome figure of Boda better support. A few minutes after both subs have come on, Hungary twice go close, and twice through the right boot of the casually looking Garaba, as always playing with his shirt outside his shorts. His first attempt comes after Détári and Vincze have combined following a short corner from the right, and the former sees Garaba lurking on the edge of the area. The Hungary number 6 has to reach back to get to the ball, and is slightly off balance as he shoots half a yard or so over Bonner’s crossbar. His second goes closer: he’s teed up, again by Détári, who’s raised his game in the second half, and he strikes the outside of Bonner’s right hand post, via the Celtic ‘keeper’s outstretched palm. The home crowd breathe a sigh of relief, and there’s a halt in the renditions of either “Here we go”, “Que sera, sera” or “You’ll never walk alone” (did they know any other songs?).
Liam Brady holds a great place in Irish footballore: coming on to replace Aldridge 16 minutes from time he extends his own Irish cap record into the 70s. He’s just experienced relegation with West Ham and will be playing second division football next season. However, he’s still very much a first division athlete in the eyes of the Irish fans. He gets a great reception when coming on, meaning Ireland switch to a 4-3-3, with McGrath sitting deep in the midfield three, and with Houghton and Sheedy more or less joining Cascarino in attack, albeit in wide roles. Ten minutes from time Charlton puts his second and final substitute into practice: Celtic full-back Chris Morris enters the fray for McGrath, who’s done an awful lot of running for someone who not too long ago was deemed a footballing invalid: he’s knees a constant source of problems. McGrath, who set the tone with that 1-0 goal, also has a generous round of hands from the crowd. And Morris, a full-back by trade, slots straight into that holding midfield role.
There’s not an awful lot of interesting football being played in the final ten, with the Irish happy to see the game out, especially as they went two goals in front just after Morris ran onto the field of play: Townsend played a ball down the left side channel for Houghton to chase, but he appeared to lose out to Garaba. However, the Liverpool man, perhaps with the aid of a gentle push, gained control of the ball, crossed it via László Disztl’s foot and over the goalkeeper’s head and into the direction of Cascarino, who was left to nod it across the goalline. Despite Hungary possibly having come more into the game during the second half, there could be few arguments against the Irish deserving the set of points. A frustrated Détári had his name taken by the referee for dissent six minutes from time. Townsend had run himself into the ground and really bossed the midfield, being well worth his ‘man of the match’ award. With a three points advantage over the Hungarians, albeit with one game more played, Ireland looked set to join Spain in Italy. The all Ireland clash in October would be much anticipated. Before then, Hungary would travel to the other half of the Irish island to try and gain ‘the double’ against the Ulstermen. West Germany were next up for the Republic in a friendly, again in Dublin, on the same night as Northern Ireland and Hungary would clash in Belfast.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND:
1 Bonner 7.0
has two saves to make and executes them to perfection. Assured as always.
2 Hughton 6.7
again the more conservative of the two full-backs. Does not let Csehi in.
3 Staunton 6.8
a less attacking display than has often been the feature of the youngster’s game. Never bothered by Mészáros.
4 O’Leary 6.6
part of a four man defence which is in control throughout.
5 Moran 6.9
wins most battles with Boda.
6 Townsend 7.6
a very dominant display. Deservedly won the ‘MoM’ award. So powerful he strikes fear into his opponents.
7 McGrath 7.1
an effective game again in the deep of the midfield, and his goal set the Irish on their way to victory. Was rested for the final few minutes after having covered a lot of ground.
(13 Morris –
only comes on to give McGrath some rest. Not a lot to do.)
8 Houghton 7.1
still a busy bee, despite not always being as prolific. However, does assist for Cascarino’s 2-0.
9 Aldridge 6.6
still hampered by his lack of confidence in the green jersey, Aldridge again had an indifferent performance, even if he did once test P Disztl with a shot on the half-volley from the edge of the box, which was parried away by the goalkeeper.
(12 Brady –
shows a couple of deft touches after coming on; the wise head’s still got it.)
10 Cascarino 7.5
exerts his dominance to near perfection. Unplayable in the air. Gets his richly deserved goal eventually.
11 Sheedy 6.9
not always in the thick of the action for Ireland, but does a solid enough job down the left hand side.
1 P Disztl 7.0
a couple of fine saves, and can not be blamed for either goal, even if he could’ve stopped the ball from reaching Cascarino for 2-0 with a bit of luck on his side.
2 Kozma 6.8
keeps Sheedy in check for most of the match.
3 Keller 6.9
better going forward then defending. A bigger threat down the left hand side than Csehi is. Positional sense not always up to standards though.
4 L Disztl 6.8
raises his game when he’s got an experienced player alongside him. A couple of vital interceptions.
5 Fitos 6.8
very tenacious, quite aggressive, and is not afraid of challenging the phyiscally stronger opponents.
6 Garaba 7.0
solid comeback, even if he should have stayed on his feet moments before 2-0. Still much needed in the national team picture.
7 Mészáros 6.1
it really comes as no surprise that also the second Hungarian wide midfielder gets withdrawn. Mészáros did try to support Boda a bit in the opening exchanges of the match, but soon settles into dull anonymity out wide right.
(13 Vincze –
goes up top when coming on, has eager feet, but poses little direct threat to the Irish goal.)
8 Z Bognár 6.4
always second best in the aerial challenges with Cascarino, but is much better when the ball’s being kept on the deck. Never shirks from his responsibility.
9 Boda 6.3
a very difficult game in a tough role as lone striker against some unsavory defenders.
10 Détári 6.6
his first half is anemic. Psyched out by Townsend. Pulls himself together at half-time, but still nowhere near where a man of his reputation should be in a game as vital as this.
11 Csehi 6.2
honestly does not contribute with a lot. Incapable of passing Hughton. Mostly anonymous.
(12 G Bognár –
is mainly operating to the right of midfield after coming on, and does add a bit of quality on the ball, making sure Hungary have their best spell of the match for a 7-8 minutes period before 2-0.)