Ireland 2-0 Poland: Player ratings
22:04, 06 Feb 2013
John Kelly at Lansdowne Road
Butchered a clearance after 19 minutes and Poland almost took advantage; then punched away the resulting corner. Did brilliantly to save a one-on-one from Robert Lewandowski after Poland emerged from a midfield scrap with the ball. That was typical of the first-half play, and he was at full-stretch to tip Lewandowski’s half-volley around the post. Came off his goal-line well a couple of times in the second half but often elects to punch when a catch looks on.
Oh dear. Gave the ball away after six seconds but Poland failed to take advantage. Soon after he let Lewandowski in behind but stopped the striker getting his cross in. Then made a mess of things on the right with Robbie Brady which almost let Szymon Pawlowski in. Poland threatened much less in the second half so he wasn’t exposed as much as he had been earlier. It will still make the heart sink if he starts in March.
Was forced to pass back to Forde as Poland pressed and then scythed through Lewandowski to give away a free-kick. His partnership with Clark looked okay in the first-half, as long as Ireland didn’t easily lose the ball in dangerous areas in front of him. Comfortable in the second half and it wouldn’t be a disaster if the same pair started against Sweden.
Got stuck into Robert Lewandowski immediately and looked to have the better of him in the air. Was obviously instructed to hit the channels but one ball booted straight out drew groans from the home crowd. Was alert whenever Poland worked triangles down the right. Then took his chance well after a scramble from a corner. Very good at nipping in in front of an attacking player and stood Lewandowski up well on another occasion. Our Man of the Match.
Tackled well on the left after Polish danger-man Ludovic Obraniak, and Jakub Blaszczykowski, combined. Gave the ball away easily with his first foray forward. Always did well to cover back and was never beaten for pace.
Lovely skill on the right to win an early throw. Should have given a pass when he beat a couple of players in midfield. Had the first real shot from the home side but couldn’t hook it goalwards. First real chance was smothered after he was found by Long. Two poor free-kicks straight at the keeper didn’t advance his chances of earning a regular spot. Blasted one shot high and wide when he should’ve picked out a cross.
One could see immediately that Ireland’s midfield two were outnumbered, particularly with Obraniak stealthily finding pockets out space in behind. Terrible pass when there was a chance of a break. Like most of the Irish, looked more comfortable when the game lost its shape.
Whelan and McCarthy cut out a number of early balls but one careless McCarthy hack led to Poland’s best chance after five minutes. Was better when the game degenerated into a scrap as the first half went on. Did have one decent effort from 20 metres saved by Wojciech Szczesny. It’s a bit disconcerting to see him assigned to a post to defend a corner when he’s fix-foot tall. Gave away the ball easily when he had a chance to shoot.
Really needs to be aware of what he can’t do. Wasted his first cross when he had more time. In fairness to him, he was hungry for work. He did well to carry the ball out of defence to find Shane Long on the left and he won a corner from the next play and Clark gave Ireland a thoroughly deserved, ahem, lead. Loses the head way too quickly when easy passes are an option. Grew into it, though, and his crosses were a bit more threatening as the game went on. Did his chances of starting the next qualifier no harm, even if there’s always a serious risk he’ll lose the ball.
It was all running after lost causes in the early stages. He’s a frustrating player because he can look dangerous and then do something clumsy on the ball. One cross almost put Brady in but, overall, not his night.
His first touch was a little header on as Poland completely dominated the early stages. Tried to flick the ball to himself at one point when Ireland were all over the place. Battled win to win a soft free kick on the right just after half-time. Horrible touch after a mix-up in the Poland defence allowed Szszesny to snaffle the ball when the striker had a great chance to socre. Will that be Sammon’s one and only chance ever in an Ireland shirt? Possibly a tad harsh. Chases back well after he’d lost the ball – that’ll have gone down well with Trap.
Paul Green (for Whelan, half-time)
Went all the way back to Forde when McClean had so much space out left. The Sunderland man clearly didn’t appreciate that. Dropped back well to dig out his defence on a couple of occasions.
Wes Hoolahan (for Long, 60 mins)
Gave off a nice ball to McCarthy to set up a potential shot but the Wigan man wasted possession. Lovely control and finish to put Ireland a flattering 2-0 up. He showed with a couple of jinking runs that he has more class than anyone else in the squad.
Jonathan Walters (for Brady, 72 mins)
Didn’t really get a sniff.
Jeff Hendrick (for McCarthy, 72 mins)
Played the most creative ball of any Irish player all night when he dinked over the Polish defence to find Hoolahan who scored. The 21-year-old looks a fine prospect.
Simon Cox (for McClean, 81 mins)
Played on the left when he came on but switched with Walters with a few minutes to go.
Richard Keogh (for Clark, 85 mins)
On for his debut.
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