I’m as disappointed as you. But lets be fair – Ireland were simply not good enough on Sunday night. Croatia scored at really bad times and were the more assured side throughout. Like every Irish fan, I wanted the team to get off to a good start. I was confident that a draw would be the least we could get. Bad luck and a sub-par performance ended our 14-game unbeaten run and put us bottom of Group C. Ouch!
A big talking point is the penalty claim that Ireland were refused in the 63rd minute. Gordon Schildenfeld went through Robbie Keane in his effort to reach the ball. A tackle from behind like that usually warrants a yellow card and a penalty. The Dutch referee, Bjorn Kuipers, took no action. A penalty could have changed the game. It’s just wasn’t to be Ireland’s night.
I must give credit to the Croatians. Especially forward Mario Mandžukić. They were the better team and seemed more confident. They now top Group C and deservedly too.
So next up is Spain on Thursday. Good God! Before the tournament, I had said that Ireland will more than likely get no points from this tie. The current World & European champions have far too much quality. Even their substitutes could win the tournament alone. Ireland need to be at our absolute best. Though I must admit, I’d like to see a change in the starting XI. McClean and Walters should be considered to start against the Spaniards, in my estimation. If we are to get out of our incredibly difficult group, a change is needed.
So there you have it. Our first game got off to a very bad start. Our remaining fixtures don’t get any easier. Do we need a miracle to help us? Or has Il Trap got a cunning plan for Thursday?
|Republic of Ireland||1–3||Croatia||Municipal Stadium, Poznań
Referee: Björn Kuipers (Netherlands)
|St Ledger 19′||Mandžukić 3′, 49′