Trapattoni’s Irish eyes smiling despite Spain loss
The Emerald Isle may remain outsiders to lift the World Cup next year at odds of 250/1 but the prospects for Robbie Keane & Co making the plane to Brazil will have been boosted by this showing.
A depleted Ireland squad headed to New York to face World and European Champions Spain with little expectation of victory – only the hope that they would avoid the same 4-0 hammering they received at the hands of La Roja at Euro 2012.
In the end Giovanni Trapattoni and his players will feel unlucky not to have come away with something against a Spanish team boasting Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Manchester City’s David Silva amongst their ranks.
Ireland, meanwhile, were forced to field a weakened side following a number of withdrawals which included forward Shane Long, but it was his replacement Connor Salmon who had his sides first big chance, shooting just wide after dispossessing Gerard Pique.
Vicente Del Bosque was at times far from impressed with his side, who begin their Confederations Cup campaign this weekend against Uruguay as second favourites to lift the trophy at 7/4.
In the end he had to wait until the 68th minute for substitute Roberto Soldado to break the deadlock, and even then, Ireland refused to give up the fight with Iker Casillas forced into a great save from James McClean on 81 minutes.
Moments later Sean St Ledger thought he had levelled things up from the resulting corner but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Juan Mata eventually sealed the win for the Spanish in the 88th minute, but Ireland will take plenty of positives from a performance that starkly contrasted their Euro 2012 mauling and the subsequent 6-1 loss to Germany in World Cup qualifying.
Trapattoni’s team are unlikely to catch group leaders Die Mannschaft but remain level on 11 points with Austria and Sweden in what is shaping up to be a three-way battle for second.
Spain’s win meanwhile keeps them on course for a bright Confederations Cup campaign, with the current World Cup holders’ clear favourites to top their group at 4/11.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.