Swiss end Irish hopes
By Paul Higham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The Irish were never in contention in Basel after Hakan Yakin put the hosts ahead after just six minutes, although Georgia gave them hope by taking the lead early on in Russia.
However, the Russians came powering back to earn a 3-1 win and the Irish, now needing to win, went 2-0 behind by giving away another soft goal to Alexander Frei to confirm Switzerland's passage to the finals and dump a frustrated Irish side out of the tournament.
The Irish got off to the worst possible start as The Swiss went ahead when Yakin made it 1-0.
Alexander Frei was allowed to turn a shoot at the edge of the box and although it was a weak effort, the ball evaded Matt Holland and Yakin sneaked in ahead of Shay Given and walked the ball into the empty net.
Ireland's defence looked shaky after the goal and Stephane Chapuisat fired in a well-struck shot straight after the goal and Given did well not to spill the ball.
Gary Breen wasted a free header from a corner as Ireland began to get into the game, although Damien Duff and Robbie Keane were being well marshalled and struggled to make any impact on proceedings.
The game became a quiet affair until Raphael Wicky swung in a cross from the left that beat Given and came off the bar, shortly before Breen had another chance from a Duff corner but headed wide.
Just as Brian Kerr's men began to get on top, Frei doubled the lead when Given failed to hold Chapuisat's header and the striker reacted before the visiting defence to poke the ball home from close range.
With Russia grabbing their expected win at home to Georgia, Kerr knew his side needed to win the match to grab a play-off spot, but they never looked like getting back into the game and the Swiss saw the game out to go through to Portugal as Group Ten winners.
Russia booked their spot in a two-legged play-off next month despite going behind to Georgia through Alexander Iasvili's early deflected shot, with Dmitri Boulykin, Egor Titov and Dmitry Sychev grabbing the goals in a 3-1 win.