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Republic of Ireland in focus

Published: Monday 7 November 2011, 9.26CET
Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic of Ireland side are looking to reach their first UEFA European Championship since 1988 but have to negotiate a tricky play-off tie against Estonia.
Republic of Ireland in focus
Republic of Ireland will make their first European championship appearance since 1988 if they beat Estonia ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 7 November 2011, 9.26CET

Republic of Ireland in focus

Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic of Ireland side are looking to reach their first UEFA European Championship since 1988 but have to negotiate a tricky play-off tie against Estonia.

Ireland began their Group B campaign with what proved a crucial 1-0 victory in Armenia – thanks to a first international goal from substitute Keith Fahey – before Andorra were beaten in Dublin. A 3-2 home defeat against Russia threatened to derail things – the visitors had been three goals up before Ireland’s late fightback – but a gritty defensive effort earned a 1-1 draw in Slovakia four days later. Home (2-1) and away (2-0) victories against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia preceded goalless draws against Slovakia and in Russia, and Ireland recorded a fourth successive competitive clean sheet when winning 2-0 in Andorra in their penultimate fixture. That meant only a point was required against Armenia in Dublin and Ireland made no mistake, a 2-1 victory booking their play-off place.

2010 FIFA World Cup
Qualifying Group 8: P10 W4 D6 L0 F12 A8 Pts18
Play-off: Lost 2-1 on aggregate to France

Giovanni Trapattoni's side narrowly missed out on a place at the World Cup finals with a play-off defeat against France. Ireland went through their qualifying group unbeaten, finishing in second place behind world champions Italy and four clear of third-placed Bulgaria. In the play-offs, they suffered their first competitive home loss under Trapattoni as Nicolas Anelka's goal at Croke Park gave Les Bleus a 1-0 first-leg win. Robbie Keane scored in Paris to send the tie into extra time only for William Gallas to win it for France.

Qualifying Group D: P12 W4 D5 L3 F17 A14 Pts17

After taking just one point from their first three games, Ireland stood little chance of qualifying for UEFA EURO 2008 and it turned out to be a largely forgettable campaign. The 5-2 defeat in Cyprus in October 2006 was the low point and Steve Staunton's team were also fortunate to scrape a 2-1 win at San Marino through a last-gasp Stephen Ireland goal. Ireland eventually finished third, 12 points behind group winners Czech Republic and ten adrift of runners-up Germany with Under-21 manager Don Givens in charge for the final game, a 2-2 draw in Wales, following Staunton's exit

UEFA European Championship best performance
Ireland's appearance at EURO '88 was their first at any major tournament. A surprise Scotland win in Bulgaria in the last round of qualifying sent Jack Charlton's side to West Germany at the Bulgarians' expense and their opening game against England proved one of the greatest days in the country's sporting history, Ray Houghton's header securing a 1-0 victory. A 1-1 draw with the USSR left Ireland in with a chance of making the semi-finals if they could beat the Netherlands, but Wim Kieft's goal (82) gave the Dutch a 1-0 win and they went on to lift the trophy.

Key facts
Having finished in the top two places in their qualifying group in four successive campaigns up to 2000, Ireland finished third in qualifying for UEFA EURO 2004 and UEFA EURO 2008. They have a formidable home record, losing just twice in their last 20 home group UEFA European Championship qualifiers (against Switzerland in October 2002 and Russia in October 2010), but have just six away wins from 19 games, although they won three and drew the other two of their away fixtures in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying. Kevin Kilbane started every competitive Ireland international from November 1999 before a back injury ruled him out of the Slovakia game on 2 September 2011, ending his run of 66 successive games.

Play-off record
EURO '96
Netherlands 2-0 Republic of Ireland

1998 FIFA World Cup
Republic of Ireland 1-1 Belgium
Belgium 2-1 Republic of Ireland

Republic of Ireland 1-1 Turkey
Turkey 0-0 Republic of Ireland (Turkey win on away goals)

2002 FIFA World Cup
Republic of Ireland 2-0 Iran
Iran 1-0 Republic of Ireland

2010 FIFA World Cup
Republic of Ireland 0-1 France
France 1-1 Republic of Ireland (aet)

Last updated: 11/06/12 2.02CET

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