Republic of Ireland 1 Switzerland 1
CORK'S Conor Hourihane played for 82 minutes as the Republic of Ireland drew 1-1 with Switzerland in their crucial Euro 2020 qualifier at the Aviva Stadium last night while Alan Browne made a late substitute’s appearance.
Aston Villa midfielder Hourihane is a native of Bandon while Preston North End's Alan Browne came through the ranks at Ringmahon Rangers and Cork City.
The Boys in Green came into this game sitting top of Group D, six points ahead of their opponents albeit the Swiss had two games in hand and Mick McCarthy’s side knew a positive result here would give them a great opportunity to secure a top-two finish.
Following a tame opening, Ireland created the first meaningful opportunity of the match in the 13th minute but James McClean could only send his weak effort at the goalkeeper Yann Sommer after quick footwork from Jeff Hendrick picked him out.
The visitors had two decent chances to edge in front midway through the first half but moments after Shane Duffy’s sensational last-ditch block denied Haris Seferovic, AC Milan’s Ricardo Rodriguez scuffed a volley from a good position wide of the left post.
Switzerland continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides going forward as Granit Xhaka and Denis Zakaria decided to try their luck from distance but neither effort threatened Darren Randolph in the Irish goal.
Ireland finished the first half strongly and David McGoldrick spurned two great chances to give his side the lead before the half time break.
The Sheffield United attacker scuffed a neat Jeff Hendrick pass straight at the goalkeeper shortly before he curled a dangerous pass across the face of goal when he could have gone for goal himself.
The Irish relied on their luck at the beginning of the second half as Fabian Schar and Seferovic fired wide of the target before Breel Embolo slipped as he looked to finish when through on goal after 62 minutes.
But the Swiss would punish them with 16 minutes remaining as neat one-touch football allowed Embolo to set up Schar and the Newcastle United defender expertly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner.
Ireland finished strongly and shortly after Glenn Whelan rattled the bar from distance, David McGoldrick found the top right corner with a towering header from a deflected McClean cross in the closing stages to earn the Republic a point.