10.06.2019 at 19:45
Republic of Ireland
2 - 0
European Cup Qualifier / Prog-match
James Mc Clean
David Mc Goldrick
10th caps for Enda Stevens and David Mc Goldrick, 25th Cap for Richard Keogh
Joseph Chipolina's own goal and a late effort from substitute Robbie Brady handed the Republic of Ireland a Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Gibraltar.
On a night when 36,281 turned up at the Aviva Stadium hoping for a goal-fest, Mick McCarthy's men needed a stroke of good fortune to set them on their way to three points courtesy of a 2-0 win which keeps them at the top of Group D with 10 from their opening four games.
The Republic, whose arrival delayed when they had to change buses after a mechanical failure, misfired despite dominating possession against stubborn opposition and took the lead when David McGoldrick's 29th-minute shot hit the unfortunate Chipolina and ended up in the net.
McGoldrick later struck an upright before Brady came off the bench to score in added-time but the game ended with he and fellow frontmen Callum Robinson, Scott Hogan and Sean Maguire still awaiting a first goal for their country and having seen a golden opportunity pass them by.
McCarthy had insisted in the run-up to the game that the style in which his side won did not concern him as long as they won, and admitted he would take a goal going in off somebody's backside if it secured three points.
His comments proved somewhat prophetic and while he may be satisfied with the result and elements of the performance, the cutting edge his team will need to convert a decent start into qualification with far more testing fixtures to come during the second half of the campaign was sadly lacking.
The hosts might have been ahead as early as the second minute had Shane Duffy, who scored their equaliser in Denmark on Friday, made meaningful contact with Conor Hourihane's cross, and McGoldrick blazed wide when he might have done better seconds later.
As anticipated, Gibraltar packed men behind the ball in an attempt to deny Ireland space in the final third, and the ploy paid dividends with McCarthy's men finding themselves thwarted repeatedly as Hourihane and Jeff Hendrick in the middle and Seamus Coleman and Robinson down the right tried to find a way through.
Too often, the final ball was missing and frustration was starting to mount when they were finally given a helping hand, albeit unintentionally.
Robinson found space down the right and when his pass was deflected into Coleman's path, he pulled the ball back for McGoldrick to sweep a shot towards goal, where it cannoned off Chipolina's chest and wrong-footed goalkeeper Kyle Goldwin. Replays suggested the initial effort was heading wide.
Preston's Robinson dragged a shot wide two minutes later and saw another fly inches past the far post with Goldwin beaten on the stroke of half-time, but Gibraltar remained firmly in the game at the break.
The Republic continued to make all the running after the restart, but once again, a lack of precision cost them dearly. Full-back Enda Stevens blasted high over from distance and Hogan saw a header from a Hourihane cross saved comfortably but Darren Randolph was called upon for the first time with 56 minutes gone when he had to field Liam Walker's deflected shot after the visitors had broken at pace.
Robbie Brady secured the three points for Republic of Ireland
Jeff Hendrick and Robinson had shots blocked in quick succession and Goldwin saved well from Hogan at his near post as Ireland pressed once again.
McGoldrick rattled the woodwork after creating space for himself with 18 minutes remaining and the clock had ticked deep into stoppage time when Brady made sure of the win, heading James McClean's cross powerfully home.
Republic of Ireland have won all four of their previous meetings with Gibraltar by an aggregate score of 14-0. However, half of those 14 goals came in their first such meeting.
Gibraltar have lost all 23 of the European Championships/World Cup qualifying matches, failing to score in each of their last seven such games.
Republic of Ireland have lost just one of their last nine games in all competitions (W3 D5), keeping six clean sheets in the process.
Robbie Brady scored his first goal in 17 matches for Republic of Ireland, since netting in a friendly against Oman in August 2016.
Ireland's Conor Hourihane created eight goalscoring opportunities for his teammates in this match - only Miralem Pjanic for Bosnia against Armenia in March (9) has created more in a single match in this qualifying campaign.
Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy praised his side after their victory over minnows Gibraltar despite only a 2-0 win.
Ireland manager Mick McCarthy speaking to Sky Sports: "I'm wondering why people are thinking I should be miserable. I'm thrilled and delighted. Am I happy with the performance? Not really. We've had about 30 shots and couldn't score. But we got two and they didn't get any. That's 10 points in my pocket. I don't think people like being positive. Thank goodness I do."
'We should have scored more'
Man-of-the-match McGoldrick said he had wanted to claim his side's opening goal from his deflected shot but was not too surprised he was not awarded it.
A deflected David McGoldrick strike gives Republic of Ireland a 1-0 lead over Gibraltar.
"I asked the boys after the game and they said it was an own goal, but we got the three points and that's the main thing," the Sheffield United striker, still waiting for his first senior international goal, told Sky Sports.
"We should have had more goals. I should have had goals, but the main thing is we've got 10 points from our first four (group) games and it's a great start to the campaign.
"I'm quite frustrated you know. I've just got to keep going as a striker. I got told when I was younger, as long as you're getting chances.... it's when you stop getting chances when you need to worry about it."