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Ireland v Soviet Union - Euro 1988
Irish Goal Scorer
In their first ever major football championship finals Ireland had been drawn in Group B. A group that included England, the mighty (former) Soviet Union and the fabulously talented Dutch squad. The Republic of Ireland's second group match in the 1988 Euro finals was against the Soviet Union on 15th June 1988 at the Niedersachsenstadion in Hanover, West Germany.
Following on from the memorable victory over the old enemy, England, in the opening match confidence in the Irish camp was very high. Equally the Soviets went into their second group match full of confidence as they had already beaten the highly rated Dutch team 1-0 through a second-half goal from Vasily Rats.
The match kicked off at 8:15pm in the Niedersachsenstadion in front of 38,308 fans. The Irish started off playing in an impressive fashion and showed that the Irish could actually get the ball down on the ground and play creative and attractive football.
This, mixed with the Jack Charlton long-ball style of football, ensured that the Irish had the best goal chances in the first half. One thrilling run by Ray Houghton, in which he beat three players, led to a save by the Soviet goalkeeper Rinat Dasaev.
Ronnie Whelan Breaks Deadlock
As the first half was drawing to a close Ireland won a throw-in in the Soviet half of the pitch. Long throw specialist Mick McCarthy looped an enormous throw to the edge of the eighteen yard box.
Liverpool's Ronnie Whelan had advanced from midfield and was loitering with intent. The ball came down over the heads of two Soviet defenders, who were focussed on the aerial threat of Frank Stapleton. As the ball lost momentum Whelan launched himself and swung his left leg connecting solidly and sent the ball beyond the diving Dasaev and into the Soviet net. Later replays revealed that the ball had actually come off Whelan's shin but nevertheless this spectacular effort sent Ireland in at half time with a 1-0 lead that. If they held on to the lead until full time, it would be enough to send Ireland through to the semi-finals of Euro 88.
Protasov Cancels Out Whelan's Goal
As the second half wore on the Irish continued to hold their own although the Soviet Union increased the pressure. Following a number of half chances Oleg Protasov struck after 75 minutes to cancel out Whelan's earlier effort. An Igor Belanov flick on of a long ball fell to Protasov who struck a low shot under Packie Bonner for the equaliser.
It was a disappointment for Ireland and the Irish fans but it meant that Ireland only needed a draw from the last group match, against Holland, to qualify for the semi-finals of the Championship.
Ireland & Soviet Union Teams
Republic of Ireland
Soviet Union Team
Venue: Niedersachsenstadion, Hanover Match Attendance: 38,308 Referee: E Soriano Aladren from Spain.
1988 Euro Group B Table After Second Round of Matches
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