Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Republic of Ireland's play-off woe

The luck of the Irish was nowhere to be seen tonight as a controversial Thierry Henry goal saw France beat Giovanni Trapattoni's side to a place in next summer's World Cup in South Africa.

It is not the first time the Republic have come unstuck at the final hurdle ahead of a major tournament.

World Cup 1966: v Spain

Due to the withdrawal of Syria, the Republic were pitted against Spain in a two-team group. Both teams won one match, leading to a play-off for a spot in the World Cup finals in England. Wembley was initially pencilled in as the venue but a request from their opponents saw the match take place in Paris instead. Spain enjoyed much greater support in the French capital and scored the only goal of the game to see them through.

European Championships 1996: v Holland

In what proved to be manager Jack Charlton's last match in charge of the national team he took his side to Anfield to face a technically superior Dutch XI. Built around a core of players who had won the Champions League with Ajax seven months earlier, Holland had a 19-year-old Patrick Kluivert to thank as he scored both goals in a 2-0 win.

World Cup 1998: v Belgium

Mick McCarthy's Ireland were not at their best in qualifying for France '98 but still managed to finished second to Romania to tee up a play-off with Belgium. Dennis Irwin and Luc Nilis both scored to make it 1-1 after the first leg at Lansdowne Road before two goals from Emile Mpenza in Brussels rendered Ray Houghton's effort academic and sent the hosts through with a 3-2 aggregate win. David Connolly was also sent off in the match.

European Championships 2000: v Turkey

Having frittered away the chance of automatic qualification, the Republic were handed a tough assignment against a talented Turkish side. Robbie Keane scored his side's goal as they came away from the home leg with a 1-1 draw, Lee Carsley giving away a crucial penalty to see Turkey equalise. A frenetic goalless draw in the return leg ended Ireland's hopes of reaching the championships.

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