Faroe Islands hold Ireland at half time, but second half loss of concentration becomes fatal.

June 08, 2005: World Cup Qualifier, Faroe Islands - Republic of Ireland:

Faroe Islands – Republic of Ireland 0-2 (0-0)
0-1 Ian Harte ’51 (pen)
0-2 Kevin Kilbane ’58

A superb display from the Faroe Islands earned them a
0-0 score line at half time, but a few minutes of lost concentration in the start of the second half wrecked a very possible point against Ireland.

When Irish coach, Brian Kerr, said he expected a tough match against the Faroe Islands, he wasn’t just being polite. Actually, he feared the match so much, that he insisted that FIFA should order the Faroes to broaden the pitch 3 meters on both sides, so it would suit the Irish better. He thought he had found a rule in the rulebook which allowed him to do that, but however, it turned out he hadn’t been thorough enough in his research, so he wasn’t allowed to demand anybody to build a new soccer pitch with the measurements he prefers.

Below average temperatures this spring has had its impact on the pitch which has become a bit bumpy, because the grass hasn’t been growing much. But Damien Duff didn’t think the pitch was worse than so many pitches in the English Premier League, so he was not going to use that as an excuse. Unfortunately it started raining before kick off and that didn’t improve on the playing surface, of course, which now became both bumpy and slippery.

However, the Republic of Ireland thought they were off to a perfect start when they after six minutes had the ball in the Faroese net, but rightfully it was ruled off side. That decision infuriated Roy Keane who angrily protested to the referee, who would have none of it and gave Roy Keane the yellow card. Maybe an indication that Keane expected a very tough match. But then again, when doesn’t Keane get yellow cards…? :-)

Ian Harte taking a free kick for Ireland against the Faroe Islands at Tórsvøllur Stadiun

16 minutes gone and Morrison has been fouled just outside the penalty area. Ian Harte steps up to take the free kick, but Jákup Mikkelsen just manages to hold on to the ball in 2 attempts.

25 minutes into the game the Faroes were just centimeters from taking a surprising lead. Rógvi Jacobsen played Heðing á Lakjuni free on the left with a superb pass between two Irish defenders and from an acute angel, Heðin beat goalkeeper Shay Given, but the ball went narrowly wide of the far post.

3 minutes later, Andrew av Fløtum tried his luck from long range and the awkward bounce of the ball on the wet pitch almost caught Shay Given by surprise.

34 minutes into the game, Súni Olsen put in a cross from 35 meters and again the unpredictable bounce gave the Ireland goalkeeper a scare.

In the 38th minute, Ireland had their best chance. Damien Duff played across to Andy Reid who had acres of space and ages of time to make the shot from 17 meters, but Faroese goalkeeper Jákup Mikkelsen dived to make a fine save, but the ball bounced back to a totally free Stephen Elliot, but from 6 meters, Elliot hit the crossbar.

3 minutes later, Elliot went close again, when he won an air-duel with the keeper, but his shot went wide of goal.

0-0 at halftime and Brian Kerr must have been really nervous, because Ireland had been very poor and nothing suggested they were going to have it any easier in the second half.

However, it took only 13 minutes of lost concentration for the Faroes from the start of the second half to hand Ireland two goals and the victory.

But before that, in the 46th minute, Rógvi Jacobsen had a clear header from a corner, but it went over the goal.

But then the 12 minutes of misery started for the Faroes. Ireland had a throw inn and Roy Keane ran along the edge of the penalty area and fell theatrically after a Faroese tackle, but wasn’t given a free kick (nor a (second) yellow card for diving) but the ball fell to Kevin Kilbane, who blasted the shot over the Faroese goal. Goal kick to the Faroes. Jákup Mikkelsen takes it. Ireland wins the ball, play it to Elliot, who escapes the Faroese defense. The goalkeeper hesitates for a moment to come out, but then brings down Elliot. Exactly 8 seconds elapsed from when the goal kick was taken until the penalty was awarded. A costly goal kick, indeed!

Ian Harte took the penalty and scored, although Jákup Mikkelsen touched the ball, but couldn’t stop it.

8 minutes later, Ireland scored their second. Stephen Carr takes a throw in on the right to Andy Reid who puts in a cross. Johan Byrial Hansen heads the ball straight out to the danger area again, where Kevin Kilbane takes a shot and the ball ricochets off skipper Óli Johannesen’s leg and beats keeper Jákup Mikkelsen, who was already committed to his left.

Elliot should have made it 3-0 after 60 minutes when he ran from the Faroese defenders, but this time Mikkelsen saved brilliantly, first from Elliot and then the rebound from Clinton Morrison.

In the 66th minute, Morrison was allowed to turn in the area and shoot, but Mikkelsen dived to his left and saved.

15 minutes from time, the Faroe Islands had their best chance of the second half. After a corner, Ireland headed the ball out of the penalty area and the ball ended at the feet of Heðin á Lakjuni, who shot a low hard shot just inside the right post, but Shay Given made a master-save.

Ireland had two more chances in the match. One fell to Andy Reid, who tried to curl a shot into the corner but it went wide and the other one fell to Damien Duff, who dribbled past a defender but curled his shot wide of the Faroese goal.

With this victory, Ireland went back to the top of group 4, but they didn’t impress against the Faroe Islands today. But Ireland will be happy for the victory and are still in a very good position to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Irish supporters sitting in the rain at Tórsvøllur Stadium in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Irish supporters in Tórsvøllur Stadium. But, take notice of the many empty seats which were reserved for the Irish. Unfortunately, thick fog in the Faroe Islands on Wednesday prevented the planes from landing, and thus many of the Irish supporters never arrived in the Faroes. Some never left Dublin and others, who went via Denmark, flew over the Faroes, but had to turn back to Norway to wait for the fog to clear.

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