Switzerland 2-0 Republic of Ireland: Mick McCarthy's side miss chance to qualify for Euro 2020
Republic of Ireland now need to beat Denmark in their next European Qualifier to make Euro 2020
Last Updated: 16/10/19 9:37am
The Republic of Ireland missed the chance to qualify for Euro 2020 on Tuesday as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat against Switzerland and had Seamus Coleman sent off.
Switzerland capitalised on a good start in the 16th minute as Haris Seferovic swept home, giving the Republic of Ireland - who could have qualified with a victory - a mountain to climb.
Despite an improved second-half showing, the Republic of Ireland were dealt another blow as Coleman was sent off in the 75th minute for a second yellow card after he was deemed to have handled a Breel Embolo shot inside the area. Ricardo Rodriguez stepped up, but saw his penalty well saved by Darren Randolph.
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Things went from bad to worse for Mick McCarthy's side in the final minute as Shane Duffy (90+3) inadvertently turned home an Edimilson Fernandes shot via the bar.
The Republic of Ireland will now need to beat second-place Denmark at the Aviva Stadium on November 18 to qualify but will be without Coleman and Duffy through suspension. Switzerland, third in Group D with 11 points, have a game in hand and are now in pole position to top the group.
How the Republic of Ireland struggled in Geneva
The pitch, which had passed an inspection around two hours before kick-off after torrential rain throughout the day, proved sticky as they sides set about their business, but the Swiss made the better start with Granit Xhaka forcing a seventh-minute save from Randolph after taking aim from distance.
Switzerland: Sommer (6), Schar (7), Akanji (7), Elvedi (5), Lichtsteiner (6), Zakaria (6), Xhaka (7), Rodriguez (6), Embolo (7), Seferovic (7), Mehmedi (n/a).
Subs used: Fernandes (6), Freuler (5), Steffen (n/a).
Republic of Ireland: Randolph (7), Coleman (6), Duffy (6), Egan (7), Stevens (7), Hendrick (6), Whelan (7), Browne (7), Connolly (6), Collins (5), McClean (6).
Subs used: O'Dowda (6), Hogan (5).
Switzerland took advantage of their good start after 16 minutes when Seferovic latched on to a half-clearance, took a touch and then fired across Randolph and inside the far post to open the scoring.
Eight minutes before the break, Newcastle defender Fabian Schar - who scored his side's goal in last month's 1-1 draw in Dublin - curled a long-range left-foot shot just wide with Randolph struggling to make his ground.
Having conducted a series of first-half reshuffles, McCarthy opted for change at the break when he replaced James Collins with Callum O'Dowda and switched to 4-3-3, but it took a fine reaction save by Randolph to keep out Seferovic's flicked header from Ricardo Rodriguez's in-swinging 52nd-minute free-kick.
- Aaron Connolly made his first start for the Republic of Ireland in one of three changes. He was included along with Enda Stevens and Alan Browne in place of Callum Robinson, Matt Doherty and Conor Hourihane.
- Switzerland named the same XI who started in Denmark.
The Republic of Ireland belatedly flexed their muscles as they saw ambitious penalty appeals for Schar's challenge on Aaron Connolly waved away before John Egan drilled a long-range shot wide, but Randolph needed the help of his far post to keep out Schar's 62nd-minute header.
With 15 minutes remaining, Coleman was adjudged to have blocked Breel Embolo's shot with his arm inside the penalty area and was given a second yellow card having already been booked following a first-half pushing match with Xhaka.
Randolph got down superbly to turn Rodriguez's spot-kick on to the post to keep Ireland's faint hopes alive, but there was nothing Duffy could do to keep out substitute Edimilson Fernandes' goal-bound effort with the final kick of the game.
McCarthy: 'Denmark game a cup final'
Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy said: "Everyone who has watched the TV knows they [Switzerland] are a very good side. It's no shock to me. They have good players who have been together for a long time and have qualified for seven of the last eight tournaments. They were dominant in the first half and we had a second half we can be proud of.
"We haven't scored that many goals, but in the past, we've managed to keep a clean sheet, which we didn't today. Unfortunately, we're missing our best striker [David McGoldrick] and we had a young lad making his full debut [Aaron Connolly] and it was difficult for him. But he can be proud, and he'll be back and playing more.
"Denmark beat Switzerland so they've got a bit of momentum, but it was always going to be the case. It's a cup final in the Aviva on November 18.
"The unlikely thing was that we were going to come here and beat that [Switzerland] team. We were going to have to give our maximum and we didn't. They deserved to win, they were the better side, we're playing Denmark at home and I would have taken that at the start and I'll take it now."
'Positives to take'
Speaking to Sky Sports, Phil Babb said: "It was always going to be a difficult game. As we thought, the Swiss dominated the first half and Mick's formation didn't really work, but I think he'll be encouraged by the second-half performance.
"They got on the ball and seemed a little bit more composed but there was also a sense of having nothing to lose here so the lads lost some of that inhibition and fear, they went for it and looked a lot better. There were positives that they could play better against such a strong team.
Stephen Ward added: "The first half was difficult going one behind, but the most pleasing thing is there was a reaction in the second half. The substitution at half-time [bringing on Callum O'Dowda for James Collins] made a real difference and up until the sending off, they were right in the game.
"In the second half, they were probably the better side early on. Switzerland are a very good side and had still had chances in the second half. I think the disappointing thing is that for all of the effort, they didn't really have that once chance where you thought 'that was a real moment'.
"But it was always going to be a tough game and going behind against these teams, especially away, is difficult but I thought the lads gave it everything."
- Republic of Ireland have suffered their first defeat under Mick McCarthy since he returned as boss last year, and for the first time under him since they also lost to Switzerland during his final game in charge of his first stint as manager in October 2002.
- After scoring 12 consecutive penalties for club and country between 2014 and 2018, Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez has now missed two of his last five such spot-kicks (one for AC Milan and one tonight).
- Republic of Ireland have failed to score in back-to-back competitive matches under Mick McCarthy for the very first time, having never done so during his first reign as manager between 1996 and 2002.
Switzerland will play the bottom two sides in Group D during the next international break, hosting Georgia before travelling to Gibraltar. For the Republic of Ireland, they will play a friendly against New Zealand on Thursday, November 14 before their huge European Qualifier against Denmark on Monday 18 November, live on Sky Sports.