Home » Ireland outclassed by Switzerland in John O’Shea’s final game as interim boss

Ireland outclassed by Switzerland in John O’Shea’s final game as interim boss

Ireland outclassed by Switzerland in John O’Shea’s final game as interim boss

That food supply was more a case of some pretty bland morsels that anything more substantial, as newcomer Sammie Szmodics looks like he’s made for the international stage, Andrew Omobamidele’s reputation is growing and Robbie Brady, for the second time in four days that as Ireland look to the future he’s by no means yesterday’s man and has a lot to offer.

But the fact that the Irish midfield, having had a revival (of sorts) against a dull Belgian side on Saturday, was once again overrun by a more canny midfield unit from the opposition is one less-than-appealing takeaway from this defeat.

Séamus Coleman being awarded the man of the match award proves that Ireland will rely on the veterans for some time.

And a lesson from this game for a largely young Irish team still learning the international game is how a veteran like Granit Xhaka can pull off more influence in his 45-minute contribution than more energetic and enthusiastic, but less talented, Irish footballers.

Switzerland came to Dublin with a place in the Euro 2024 finals secured but there was a cloud over their camp, their gloom based on a run of eight games without a win and 180 minutes of goal-free action in their previous two matches as they ponder travelling to Germany for the Euros without their main keeper, who picked up an injury last week.

But while they lacked the impressive baggage that accompanied Belgium when they visited on Saturday, the Swiss showed from the opening exchanges that there was a gap of 43 places between the two nations in the world rankings.

Xhaka (31) and Xherdan Shaqiri (32) are no longer Premier League stars but class is permanent and they were head and shoulders above the players around them.

The Swiss owned the ball and controlled the game until the 37th minute when a previously pallid Ireland woke up and created three half-decent chances, two from set plays but nothing to trouble Switzerland’s back-up keeper Yvon Mvogo.

His counterpart Gavin Bazunu had a relatively quiet game but he still went in for the half–time break in a foul mood, the Swiss 1-0 up from a free kick on 23 minutes which was cheaply conceded and then poorly defended by Ireland, Bazunu knew little about a shot by Xhaka five minutes from half time which came off the post.

Irish focus would, naturally, have been on the two current and two former Premier League players in the Swiss side but it was a relative unknown, Bologna’s Dan Odoye, who made a real impression Xhaka was running things in midfield as the Cullen/Knight axis was outclassed but it was Burnley’s Zeki Amdouni who opened up the home side, forcing club-mate Dara O’Shea into a foul on the edge of the box and Shaqiri made the most of a shoddily-built Irish wall, and a distracted Bazunu, to fire home the 30th goal of his international career.

It took until the 37 minute mark for Ireland to threaten, O’Shea knocking Robbie Brady’s free kick onto the head of Omobamidele but Mvogo had a soft save to make.

Omobamidele was off target with another header, from a Brady cross, two minutes later while three minutes from time Knight emerged from his slumber to set up Johnston, but again the final effort was wide.

O’Shea left it until the 11th minute of the second half before making a change as Matt Doherty, Adam Idah and Will Smallbone all came on.

Either a set piece or something from the boot of Robbie Brady remained Ireland’s most likely threat and so it proved on 66 minutes, with a chance carved out of a brilliant long ball from Brady, a knocked down pass from Johnston and an overhead kick from suib Idah which, although it got the crowd going, was wide.

The voluntary withdrawal of Xhaka at half time took some of the bite out of the Swiss as he was their best player and Ireland did enjoy more possession, especially in the last 25 minutes.

Nathan Collins pushed up into midfield more and more, but the lack of a creative spark from the middle and frustration for wide players Szmodics and Idah who were unable to feed a frustrated Ferguson left a potentially vulnerable Switzerland untested.

Through Idah, who had to create the chance with his own energy and power, Ireland had an opportunity but his final effort lacked accuracy while sub Finn Azaz, on for his debut, used his first touch well to cross but it was cut out by defender Nico Elvedi.

Switzerland looked to be tired and on the ropes, lacking the leadership of those stellar veterans Xhaka and Shaqiri who had been substituted, and stand-in keeper Mvogo had a couple of nervy moments late om with two panicked, punched clearances, though his goal and clean sheet remained intact.

There was more to come from Middlesbrough man Azaz who had the bravery, despite the pressure that comes with making your senior international debut in front of 35,742 people with his team on the wrong side of a 1-0 defeat, to try again in added time,

Ireland: Bazunu; Collins, O’Shea, Omobamidele (Doherty 56); Coleman (cap), Knight (Smallbone 56), Cullen (Azaz 86), Brady (O’Dowda 78); Szmodics (Sykes 78), Johnston (Idah 56); Ferguson.

Switzerland: Mvogo; Widmer (Mbabu 64), Schar (Omeragic 78), Elvedi; Comert, Shaqiri (Okafor 76), Xhaka (cap, Freuler 46), Aebischer, Sierro (Zakaria 64); Amdouni, Ndoye (Kutesa 64).

Referee: P Raczkowski (Poland).