Further disappointment for Futsal team.
Republic of Ireland 2-0 England
UEFA Futsal Cup Qualifying
National Basketball Arena, Dublin
Friday 19 February 2009
A large, boisterous and partisan Irish crowd were delighted to see their team triumph over arch-rivals England in the second group game of the UEFA European Futsal Championship Preliminary Round. Ireland deserved their win, but England’s disappointing performance made the route to victory much easier for the Irish than it should have been.
Following an excellent display by England against Kazakhstan the previous evening, where Peter Sturgess' team demonstrated good technique, tactics, a robust defence but also a willingness to attack with verve, England could not have been in a better position to play the Republic of Ireland. It is rare for England to be favourites prior to an international Futsal match, but last night England entered the National Basketball Arena in Dublin with this mantle around their shoulders.
Within the first two minutes of the game, the England players seemed laboured by this expectation with an awful error leading to an Irish goal. It was certainly the start that Ireland and the crowd had dreamed of, but rather than encourage a response from the England players they continued to frustrate.
The fluidity of passing and movement that was apparent in the Kazakhstan match was not replicated by England in any shape or form. Yet the Republic of Ireland team did not manage many more shots on goal in the first half, and England still carved out two very presentable opportunities.
The game was interestingly poised with one goal separating the teams at the start of the second half. The Irish crowd were tense: surely England would come out in the second half and increase the quality of their play? But fortunately for them, England improved only marginally.
England continued to dominate the game, having the lion’s share of the possession but doing little with it and rarely troubling the Irish goalkeeper. Mid-way through the second half, another disastrous error in the England defence presented Ireland with their second goal, which they had hardly looked likely of scoring.
With the frustration etched on the England players' faces, they strove to get back into the game creating several more scoring opportunities. But the English players were unable to alter their fragmented performance.
The England team were hugely disappointed at this result and are desperate to atone for their display when they face Cyprus in the last group game on Sunday.