|Irish Football > Republic of Ireland Qualifying Campaigns > 2000 European Football Championship|
Euro 2000 Football Championship - Irish Qualifiers
In qualifier Group 8 for the Euro 2000 Football Championship the Republic of Ireland were drawn with Yugoslavia, Croatia, Macedonia and Malta. The group's top team would gain automatic qualification to the Euro 2000 Finals in Belgium and Holland. All second placed teams (except the best second placed team) were entered into a play-off on a home and away basis.
Great Start to the Irish Euro 2000 Qualifiers
As with the Euro 1996 qualifiers Ireland got off to a great start by beating one of the favourites to win Group 8, Croatia, 2-0 at Lansdowne Road (now Aviva Stadium). This was an almost perfect start for Mick McCarthy in his first European Championship qualification match as Irish International Soccer Manager. The Republic of Ireland followed this win with a crushing 5-0 home victory over the Group 8 whipping boys, Malta.
Euro 2000 Qualifiers - Disappointment in Yugoslavia
After such a positive start the Irish travelled to Yugoslavia with some optimism. Despite a spirited performance from the Irish soccer team in the Red Star Stadium in Belgrade the Yugoslavs deservedly won the game through a 64th minute goal from Mijatovic. In June of the following year Ireland got back on track when Macedonia succumbed 1-0 at Lansdowne Road. However a much sterner football test awaited the Irish in September when the Yugoslavian team were due to visit Dublin.
Euro 2000 Group 8 Qualifier - Revenge for the Irish
But for the earlier 1-0 defeat in Belgrade in November 1998 the Republic of Ireland soccer team would have had a perfect record in Group 8 of the Euro 2000 qualifiers. If the Irish were to qualify as group winners it was vital to gain a victory over the visiting Yugoslavs. In a close match Ireland took the lead in the 52nd minute through Roy Keane. The lead was short-lived as Dejan Stankovic equalled for the Yugoslavs in the 57th. Mark Kennedy came to the rescue eleven minutes later when he scored the winner to leave Ireland sitting at the top of Group 8, one point clear of Croatia, who had played one more match, and two points clear of Yugoslavia.
Euro 2000 Qualification Disaster for Ireland
Despite a 1-0 loss to Croatia in Zagreb and a lacklustre 2-3 away win against Malta in Ta'Qali automatic qualification for the Finals of Euro 2000 was still possible for the Republic. Anything less than a win for Yugoslavia in their away match to Croatia and a victory for Ireland away to Macedonia would have seen the Irish through to the finals in Belgium and the Netherlands. This was an entirely possible scenario as Croatia had won the three group matches so far and could still qualify directly, or via the playoffs. The Croats had everything to play for. As it turned out that match ended in a 2-2 draw thereby leaving the door open for Ireland. In Skopje Ireland had taken a 0-1 lead against the Macedonians and were running down the clock. With automatic qualification for Euro 2000 looking certain - disaster stuck. With almost the very last action in the game the Macedonians scored an agonising equaliser to consign Ireland to the play-offs.
Euro 2000 Qualifiers Play-off - Ireland V Turkey
Ireland had been involved in two play-offs before. For the 1996 Euro Championships and for the 1998 World Cup Finals, losing the first by two goals and the latter by the odd goal in five. To that extent the omens were not good but Ireland had good record against the Turks.
The first leg of the play-off was in Dublin and in a tight match Ireland snatched a late lead through a Robbie Keane strike after 79 minutes. The Irish looked to have done enough to bring a slender lead into the second leg until Lee Carsley handled the ball in the box and conceded a penalty. Tayfur dispatched the penalty in the 83rd minute and now Turkey had a crucial away goal to hang on to in the second leg in Bursa.
To add insult to injury Robbie Keane was suspended for the away leg when he picked up a yellow card for dissent. The two teams played out a 0-0 draw in Bursa which was enough to see Turkey through on the away goals rule. In a fractious end to the match Irish forward Tony Cascarino found himself on the wrong end of some punches and kicks.
It was an ignominious end to a spirited Irish qualifying campaign for the 2000 European Football Championship.
Euro 2000 Qualifiers - Group Table
Republic of Ireland Euro 2000 Qualifiers - Match Results
Irish World Cup Qualifying Group Results
Number of Appearances and Goals Scored in Irish World Cup Qualifying Campaigns
Number of Appearances and Goals Scored in Irish Euro Championship Finals Qualifying Campaigns