The last three games between these two sides had seen three very dull draws, one goalless and the others one all. Including that infamous game at the 1990 World Cup, widely regarded as one of the worst games of football ever played at a World Cup, so bad that man say it wasn’t football.
England fielded an XI with a whole 8 international goals between them, while Ireland topped that by 3. The commentator lamented the fact Ireland were missing two of their forwards and how this would impact on their ability to score. Those two have between them 18 international goals… in 99 games… a goal every five and a half games.
This all seemed to dawn on Ireland a bit into the game. They started the brighter, with a formation that meant England were outnumbered in the middle of the park they were having more of the ball and more of the attacking play but it go to a point where they had nothing to put the ball away and nothing to come from having the ball. They then seemed to kinda give up. Hey what’s the point?
England took over and then took the lead 18 minutes in. It amazing came from two unique moments in the game. Reece James and Harry Winks actually kicking the ball forward – James outplayed Winks in the passing back game, all game, I lost count of the amount of times he had space in front of him to attack but never even looked forward but went straight back. James’s cross caused a corner, while from the clearance of the corner Winks lofted a hopeful ball into the box, which hit Maguire and went in. Cue hyperbole about redemption.
It was game over just on the half hour, when Sancho doubled the lead. I mean even Spurs would struggle give up a two goal lead to Ireland. Winks again passing forward, it is 2020 folks, though the pace he hit the ball I don’t know if he meant it for Grealish, he played it to Sancho who came into the box on the left, cut inside and put the ball between the defender’s legs and past the keeper in the far post.
The third came just before the hour when Saka got to the edge of the box then made for the byline when he was taken down for a penalty. With Harry Kane sitting wrapped up in the stands, Calvert-Lewin stepped up to take the spot kick, where he did his best Harry impersonation, slamming it in high and wide, the keeper if he’d gone the right way would have had no chance.
And that’s basically it. Yes there was stuff in between but it was mainly unentertaining rubbish that can’t be gauged because of the paucity of the opposition. I mean, Ireland failed to qualify for the next tournament… which Scotland are going to be at.
Yes Grealish again showed he can do stuff, wants the ball and offers stuff that Southgate doesn’t have elsewhere, we’ll see if it’s stuff that Southgate wants to ignore come to real matches – England dropped off when he went off. Saka was OK at wing-back, Mount was OK deeper than he’s played before, Sancho was OK. The defence faced nothing. The keepers did OK, Pope commanding in his area, while Henderson made a couple of saves. even with what little they had to do they convinced you more than Pickford.
Now that’s entertainment…