Long gives Ireland perfect Euro send-off
- Published: 27/05/2012 at 12:48 AM
- Online news:
Shane Long gave Republic of Ireland the perfect Euro 2012 send-off as his late goal sealed a 1-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Saturday's friendly at Lansdowne Road.
Republic of Ireland's Shane Long celebrates after scoring against Bosnia-Herzegovina during their friendly football match at the Aviva stadium in Dublin. Long gave Republic of Ireland the perfect Euro 2012 send-off as his late goal sealed a 1-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Giovanni Trapattoni's side were playing their last match on home soil before their opening Euro 2012 clash against Croatia in Poznan on June 10.
And West Bromwich Albion striker Long ensured Ireland's confidence will be high when they head to a training camp in Italy and a final friendly in Hungary after he came off the bench to bag the winner with 12 minutes remaining.
There were plenty of positives for Trapattoni to take from a match that his side dominated for long periods, including a confident first start for James McClean and an inspired cameo role from Aiden McGeady.
But the Italian, whose side are unbeaten in 13 matches, will know Ireland's finishing must improve if they are to qualify from a tough group featuring Spain, Italy and Croatia.
Long said: "The gaffer put me on to get the winner and luckily I was on the end of a brilliant Aiden McGeady cross.
"It's a massive win. We joined up on Sunday and we wanted to start off on a good foot and get a bit of a roll going before we go to Poznan.
"The whole country's getting right behind us. Hopefully we'll give them something to shout about."
Trapattoni was without first-choice goalkeeper Shay Given as the Aston Villa star recovers from a knee injury, while defender Sean St Ledger also missed out through injury despite being named in the starting line-up on Friday.
There was another injury scare for Trapattoni within the first 10 minutes when captain Robbie Keane needed treatment after taking a blow in the ribs.
But LA Galaxy striker Keane was quickly back on his feet to the relief of his manager and the focus returned to McClean, the young Sunderland winger making his first start for Ireland.
McClean has been called up for Trapattoni's Euro squad after a superb second half of the season with Sunderland and he underlined his quality with a run and cross towards Damien Duff at the far post, but Senad Lulic got a touch to clear the danger.
Bosnia striker Edin Dzeko was back in action for the first time since helping Manchester City win the Premier League and he almost set up the opening goal with a low cross to Vedad Ibisevic, who got a toe to it but was denied by Kieren Westwood.
Trapattoni's men appealed for a penalty in the 13th minute when Glenn Whelan got past Jahic and appeared to be fouled by Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic as he attempted to round him, but Swiss referee Nikolaj Haenni waved play on.
Ireland pressed on and Duff flashed just wide from the edge of the penalty area, while McClean's strike was pushed out by Begovic.
Begovic also made a good block to keep out Duff's close-range effort after the Fulham winger ran on to Keane's flick.
Trapattoni made a double change at half-time when he sent on McGeady for Duff and Keith Andrews for Whelan.
McGeady almost made an instant impact. Kevin Doyle climbed high to head a deep cross down for the Spartak Moscow winger and his volley flew past Begovic but came back off the post.
Miralem Pjanic came close for Bosnia on the hour with a 35-yard free-kick that forced Westwood into a fine scrambling save.
But Trapattoni sent on Long and Jon Walters in place of Keane and Doyle and it proved an inspired move.
Soon after Walters headed against the bar from McGeady's cross, Long pounced to score with a firm header from another McGeady delivery in the 78th minute.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency