Category: Archive

Group 4 deadlocked as Irish win in Faroes fog

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

An Ian Harte penalty (51st minute) and a Kevin Kilbane shot that deflected into the home net (58th minute) went some way towards easing the disappointment of the draw against Israel at Lansdowne Road last Saturday.
Ireland now lead Group 4 with 13 points (from seven games played), and Switzerland is second with 12 points (with just six played), while Israel is next with 11 points (seven played) and France 10 (six played).
However, the group is effectively deadlocked as the four leading teams have failed to record a win in eight games against each other, and have not dropped a single point against the two weaker teams, the Faroes and Cyprus.
The Irish took the last three points available in the group before the summer break at the Torsvollur Stadium in Torshavn in dreary, wet conditions, and without half of their supporters, who were prevented from flying into the Faroes because of fog.
It was make or break time for the Irish who had let Israel off the hook in two consecutive games. A last-minute equalizer in Tel Aviv on March 26 and a second-half surrender of a two-goal lead in Dublin deprived the squad of what would have been a commanding lead in the group.
Irish nerves were somewhat frayed by the failure to score against the island part-timers by half time, but after the break, a John O’Shea through ball resulted in Sunderland’s Stephen Elliot being brought down by goalkeeper Jakkup Mikkelsen. Then a few minutes after Harte’s conversion of the spot kick, Kilbane’s shot on the edge of the penalty area went off captain Oli Johannesen and past Mikkelsen.
A worrying note for the Irish was Roy Keane’s yellow card for dissent, which places him perilously close to another suspension as the group enters the final stretch.
Ireland will automatically qualify for the tournament finals in Germany if they win their last three games, and must still be favorites to top the group with home advantage against France (Sept. 7) and Switzerland (Oct. 12). They will play Cyprus away on Oct. 8. Switzerland are the best placed to stop them with a superior goal difference (+ 9 to Ireland’s + 7) and will have two opportunities to increase it against the Faroes and Cyprus. (Goal difference counts in team placings in the event of points being equal.)
The second placed team in Group 4 will get a second bite of the cherry, qualifying for one of the play-off games ahead of the finals.
The other remaining games in the group are: Faroe Islands vs. Cyprus (Aug. 17); France vs. Faroe Islands, Switzerland vs. Israel (Sept. 3); Cyprus vs. Switzerland, Faroe Islands vs. Israel (Sept. 7); Israel v. Faroe Islands, Switzerland vs. France (Oct. 8); France vs. Cyprus (Oct. 12).

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