Belfast Telegraph

McGoldrick finds magic touch to rescue Republic

Rep of Ireland 1 Switzerland 1

Late sting: David McGoldrick celebrates his equaliser against Switzerland last night
Late sting: David McGoldrick celebrates his equaliser against Switzerland last night
Adrian Rutherford

By Adrian Rutherford

David McGoldrick scored his first international goal as the Republic of Ireland held Switzerland to keep their Euro 2020 dream on track.

It seemed Mick McCarthy's side were heading for their first defeat of qualifying when Fabian Schar fired the Swiss in front.

But in a rousing finish at the Aviva, McGoldrick deservedly headed the Republic level five minutes from the end.

At the halfway stage, the Irish remain top of Group D.

But with key clashes against Denmark, Georgia and a return meeting with the Swiss still to come, there is still plenty of work ahead.

Most of Ireland's attacking play came from the drive of Jeff Hendrick in midfield.

In the 12th minute his run and pass was neatly played on by Callum Robinson, into the path of James McClean.

McClean looked set to shoot, but in came Nico Elvedi with a superbly-timed challenge.

The Swiss were patient and probing in their passing, and had 69% of the ball in the opening half hour.

Up front the presence of Breel Embolo caused problems, yet goalkeeper Darren Randolph wasn't overly troubled.

He stayed alert to comfortably gather a 25-yard drive from Denis Zakaria.

Later he made a fine stop at close range to thwart Haris Seferovic. The assistant referee had flagged for offside, although the final pass appeared to come off an Irish defender. Either way, it was a let-off.

Yet the Republic also grew more confident on the ball as the half progressed. Their best move came in the 34th minute, as they pieced together a series of passes, moving the ball quickly from back to front.

It ended with Hendrick playing in McGoldrick who, with his back to goal, failed to get any real power on his shot.

It was, though, a sign of encouragement, warmly received by the 44,111 home fans.

The early minutes of the second half saw a surging run from Schar, who drove forward but shot wide.

But the game had become disjointed, summed up when Ricardo Rodriguez had a corner. His delivery failed to beat the first defender. The ball came back to him, and his second attempt flashed right across the box.

McGoldrick was becoming more isolated as the Republic sat deeper.

The Swiss were now well on top and, 16 minutes from the end, made it count.

It was a classy move out of keeping with a drab second half.

Schar picked up the ball in midfield and laid it off to Granit Xhaka. It was played on to Zakari, then Embolo. Schar, who had continued his run, arrived on cue to meet the final pass and finish smartly. The goal sparked a late resurge from the Republic.

A rocket of a shot from Glenn Whelan beat the goalkeeper but crashed back off the crossbar.

The Swiss tried to get the ball away but McClean did brilliantly to win it back on the left touchline. His cross took a deflection, dropping perfectly for McGoldrick to head home.

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