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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 October, 2003, 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK
Irish bow out tamely
Clinton Morrison made little impression after he was introduced
Switzerland 2-0 Republic of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland's challenge for a place in Euro 2004 ended with a whimper as Switzerland claimed first place in Group 10 thanks to this emphatic win.

Before the game, the Irish management and players had talked up their chances of earning the win which would have guaranteed at least a play-off place.

But their gameplan did not involve conceding a sloppy early goal and, despite creating several chances, the Irish never looked comfortable in Basel.

Alexander Frei's second goal on the hour ended any slim hopes of an Irish comeback.

The Swiss did not look anything special but they did not have to be against a strangely passionless Irish team.

The visitors were behind as early as the sixth minute, with Manchester United's John O'Shea at fault.

The defender failed to clear on the edge of his own area and Alexander Frei's low angled cross found Hakan Yakin, who rounded Given and slotted home.

O'Shea, moved to central defence because of Kenny Cunningham's suspension, seemed rattled early on and he carelessly gave the ball away two minutes later, but Chapuisat's 25-yard effort was beaten away by Given.

The Irish had a chance of their own in the 10th minute but Colin Healy, after cleverly controlling the ball inside the Swiss penalty area, pulled his shot well wide.

Breen wasted an Irish chance in the 21st minute with a free header from a Harte corner going well over the bar.

At the other end, Shay Given needed to charge well outside his penalty area to avert the danger after Hakin Yakan had threaded a dangerous ball towards Alexander Frei.

Swiss striker Hakan Yakin
Hakan Yakin pounced to score after John O'Shea's mistake

Given kept the Irish in the game again in the 28th minute by moving smartly across his line to stop a Frei free-kick.

But while the Irish defence was looking nervous, the visitors were still carving out chances of their own and Connolly should have done better when nodding a pinpoint Duff cross over the woodwork on 38 minutes.

Duff produced great work in the 41st minute but his cross was just too far for Keane who could only find the sidenetting with the shot.

Ireland showed a distinct lack of urgency after the break and the woodwork save the visitors in the 52nd minute when Raphael Wicky's 20-yard effort hit the woodwork with Given beaten.

Goal-scorer Yakin, who had been an injury doubt before the game, was replaced by Celestini early in the second half and the ineffective Connolly then departed for the Irish with Clinton Morrison introduced.

The Irish tried to pick up the pace and Matt Holland fired a snapshot just wide in the 58th minute after the ball had bobbled around in the Swiss area.

However, the Irish were then hit with a hammer blow on the hour when Given failed to hold Chapuisat's glancing header after a Wicky cross and Frei had the simple task of finding the net from a yard out.

Substitute Steve Finnan's hapless headed attempt from six yards out in the 76th minute after great work by Duff summed up Ireland's night.


Switzerland: Stiel, Haas, Spycher, Muller, Murat Yakin, Vogel, Wicky, Huggel, Hakan Yakin (Celestini 55), Chapuisat, Frei (Henchoz 90).
Subs not used: Zwyssig, Berner, Streller, Rama, Zuberbuehler.

Booked: Haas, Wicky.

Republic of Ireland: Given, Carr, Breen, O'Shea, Harte, Duff, Holland (Kinsella 74), Healy (Finnan 77), Kilbane, Keane, Connolly (Morrison 58).
Subs not used: O'Brien, Carsley, Doherty, Colgan.

Booked: Carr, Kinsella.

Attendance: 31,006.

Referee: Anders Frisk (Sweden).




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"Ireland's poor start to Group 10 comes back to haunt them"



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