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International Friendly Report: Republic of Ireland 0 – 1 Switzerland – extratime.com

International Friendly Report: Republic of Ireland 0 – 1 Switzerland – extratime.com

Rónán MacNamara reports from the Aviva Stadium

Winless and goalless, John O’Shea’s interim spell in charge of the Republic of Ireland ends with nothing to cheer as his side were beaten 0-1 by Switzerland on a drab night at the Aviva Stadium.

A delightful Xherdan Shaqiri free kick midway through the first half was enough to separate the sides as the Swiss ran out deserving winners against a lacklustre and tepid Irish side for just their second win in nine games.

Shaqiri, formerly of Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Liverpool, to name a few clubs of his well travelled career, curled a beauty around the wall from the edge of the area and into the bottom corner.

Ireland created next to nothing throughout the game and goalkeeper Yvon Mvogo didn’t have a meaningful save to make. If this was to be O’Shea’s audition for a permanent gig in the Irish dugout, it was a poor effort.

After a decent showing, particularly out of possession on Saturday, Ireland lacked bite in their tackling as the Swiss played around them.

In possession they weren’t much better in the opening period, often slow and ponderous with the ball, with the best of their opportunities coming via set plays or from poor Switzerland errors.

Ireland paid too much respect in the first half to a Swiss outfit without some key figures and with just one win in eight games, that coming against Andorra.

One of the boxes ticked in interim manager John O’Shea’s first outing against Belgium was not conceding from distance. But due to Ireland being more passive in midfield this time around, the palms of Gavin Bazunu were tested when Vincent Sierro struck from 25 yards but the ball bounced harmlessly into the goalkeeper’s arms.

That was a warning and Zeki Amdouni went on a tricky run at the heart of the Irish defence only to be hacked down on the edge of the area by his Burnley teammate Dara O’Shea.

Shaqiri might have the “funniest shape of a player” according to Ireland’s technical advisor Brian Kerr, but boy has he still got it. He expertly curled the ball low and hard around the Swiss end of the Irish wall and although Bazunu will be disappointed to be beaten on his own side he could do very little as the away team opened the scoring midway through the first half.

That woke Ireland up to a degree and they profited from some poor Swiss passing. The best chance fell to Andrew Omobamidele who headed straight at Yvon Mvogo from seven yards.

As Ireland began to get a foothold in the game, they were fortunate not to be two goals in arrears. One of Bazunu’s many poor clearances in the first half fell to the feet of former Arsenal man Granit Zhaka and he struck the butt of the post to spare the blushes of the Ireland goalkeeper.

A pair of half chances for Mikey Johnston and Josh Cullen brought a tepid first half to a close where the Boys in Green struggled to get their front three on the ball as much as they had done at the weekend.

In the second half, not much changed. O’Shea struggled to get a tune out of his players and the Swiss weren’t troubled by Ireland’s lack of movement.

Celtic striker Adam Idah was introduced from the bench just before the hour and he added some presence up top and arguably had Ireland’s best moment.

A delightful Brady cross from deep was kept alive by Matt Doherty who headed across for Idah but his attempted overhead kick skewed wide.

Switzerland rung the changes, withdrawing Xhaka at the interval and Shaqiri after 75, and the game took on the usual disjointed, lacklustre tempo associated with these friendlies.

Moments later, Idah drove at the away and urged on by the crowd to let fly, he obliged. He shouldn’t have, with Evan Ferguson and Mark Sykes either side he blazed a shot from 25 yards wide of the goal.

As ever, Ireland huffed and puffed as the game entered the dying embers but to no avail.

Rep. Of Ireland: Gavin Bazunu; Robbie Brady (Callum O’Dowda 78), Séamus Coleman, Nathan Collins, Andrew Omobamidele (Matt Doherty 57), Dara O’Shea; Joshua Cullen (Finn Azaz 86), Michael Johnston (Adam Idah 57), Jason Knight, Sammie Szmodics (Mark Sykes 78); Evan Ferguson.

Subs not used: Caoimhín Kelleher, Mark Travers, Jake O’Brien, Andrew Moran, Jamie McGrath, Joseph Hodge, Ryan Manning, Will Smallbone, Festy Ebosele, Michael Obafemi.

Booked: Séamus Coleman (84).

Switzerland: Yvon Mvogo; Eray Comert, Nico Elvedi, Fabian Schär (Becir Omeragic 78), Vincent Sierro (Denis Zakaria 64), Silvan Widmer (Kevin Mbabu 64); Michel Aebischer, Xherdan Shaqiri (Noah Okafor 75), Granit Xhaka (Remo Freuler 46); Zeki Amdouni, Dan Ndoye (Dereck Kutesa 64).

Subs not used: Jonas Omlin, David Von Ballmoos, Cédric Zesiger, Ricardo Rodriguez, Renato Steffen.

Booked: Silvan Widmer (59), Nico Elvedi (75).

Referee: Pawel Raczkowski

Attendance: 35,742

extratime.com Player of the Match: Xherdan Shaqiri