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Irish Football > Republic of Ireland Qualifying Campaigns > Euro 2012 Play Off Matches

Ireland's Euro 2012 Play Off Matches Against Estonia

Ireland Drawn Against Estonia in Euro 2012 Play Offs

Following the final round of Euro 2012 qualifiers Ireland finished in second place in Group B, two points behind Russia. Due to the national team coefficient rankings (which ranked the Republic of Ireland 13th in the World) Ireland went into the eight team play off draw as one of the four seeded teams. This meant that Ireland avoided heavyweights such as Portugal, Croatia, and the Czech Republic, and could only be drawn against Bosnia & Herzegovina, Estonia, Montenegro, and Turkey. Some unpleasant memories from a previous play off encounter against Turkey in the Euro 2000 qualifiers suggested that most Irish supporters wanted to avoid the Turks.

Team
P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Russia
10
7
2
1
17
4
23
Ireland
10
6
3
1
15
7
21
Armenia
10
5
2
3
22
10
17
Slovakia
10
4
3
3
7
10
15
Macedonia
10
2
2
6
8
14
8
Andorra
10
0
0
10
1
25
0

Most Irish fans would have also wished to avoid drawing Bosnia & Herzegovina who had finished just one point behind France and had almost beaten the French in Paris in their last group match. It is fair to say that most fans, players, and the Irish team management would have favoured being drawn against either Montenegro or Estonia, with Estonia the team wanted by most.

Euro 2012 Play Off Draw

The first team drawn out of the bowl was Turkey and a nation feared that the next team drawn would be Ireland. There was no need as Croatia's name was revealed as the opposition for the Turks. Next out of the bowl was the the favoured Estonia and now it was the turn of the Irish fans to hold their collective breath in hopeful expectation. For a country that has been dogged by bad luck in various Irish qualify campaigns over the decades Irish fans hoped but didn't really expect. Nevertheless Estonia it was! To add icing to the cake the second leg would be played in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on 15 November 2011. The first leg was scheduled for 11 November 2011 in Estonia's capital Tallin.

Estonia's Euro 2012 Qualifying Campaign

Estonia lost three more matches than Ireland did in their Euro 2012 qualification group. They also shipped double the amount of goals when compared with the Irish performance. The Estonian's home form was not inspiring only beating Brian Kerr's Faroe Islands and Northern Ireland in Tallin. Impressive away form with wins against Serbia, Slovenia, and against Northern Ireland was marred by a defeat to the Faroes in June 2011.

This suggested that an away win for Ireland was very much achievable but that the Irish could take nothing for granted from the home match at the Aviva Stadium.

Estonia's Euro 2012
Qualifying Group C
Team
P
W
D
L
F
A
Pts
Italy
10
8
2
0
20
2
26
Estonia
10
5
1
4
15
14
16
Serbia
10
4
3
3
13
12
15
Slovenia
10
4
2
4
11
7
14
N. Ireland
10
2
3
5
9
13
9
Faroe Is
10
1
1
8
6
26
4

Estonian Reaction to the Euro 2012 Play Off Draw Against Ireland

If Irish fans were happy to be drawn against Estonia in the Euro 2012 play off matches the Estonian's were equally happy to be drawn against the Irish. Estonia boss Tarmo Rüütli conceded that the Republic of Ireland had been his preferred draw for the play-offs "I don't think the Republic of Ireland were the easiest of our potential opponents. All the teams at this stage are strong and they proved it during the group stage. However, I won't deny the fact that we wanted to face Ireland more than the others. Maybe the experience of our victories against Northern Ireland will help us. Both teams have the same British style of football. Everybody has a chance, there's no doubt about it."

Irish Reaction to Drawing Estonia in the Euro 2012 Play Off Matches

Irish manager Giovanni Trapattoni was delighted with the draw but advised caution "It is extremely positive for Ireland that we will play the first leg away. We should not underestimate our opponents, or any team, including Estonia; to have made it through to the play-offs, they must have quality and mental fortitude. Our build-up to this stage of the competition has shown us the importance of organisation, attention to detail and self-belief. That will be vitally important to us as we prepare for these games in November."

Previous Encounters Between the Republic of Ireland and Estonia

Prior to the Euro 2012 play-off draw Ireland and Estonia had only met twice before. The teams were thrown together in Group 2 of the 2002 World Cup qualifiers. The first match between the two countries was on 11 October 2000 at Lansdowne Road. Goals from Mark Kinsella, in the first half, and from Richard Dunne in the second half secured a 2-0 win for Ireland. Dunne went on to repeat the feat in Estonia in the away tie on 6 June 2001 when he opened the scoring after nine minutes. Matt Holland, filling for Roy Keane, added a second goal five minutes before half time thus securing a second Irish victory over Estonia by a two goal margin. These two result were vital in securing a play off position for Mick McCarthy's talented team.

Along with Richard Dunne the only other players to feature in the 2000 and 2001 ties, that were still available to Irish manager Trapattoni were Shay Given, Kevin Kilbane, Damien Duff and Robbie Keane.

Euro 2012 - 1st Leg Estonia v Ireland - Kick Off 7:45pm 11 Nov 2011 in Tallin

Tallaght Talisman Increase his Tally in Tallin

A brace of goals by top goal scorer Robbie Keane sealed a crushing victory for Ireland over Estonia in the Euro 2012 qualifier play-off first leg match in Tallin. The scale of the win meant that Irish all but booked their place in the finals in Poland and Ukraine in 2011. Ireland beat nine-man Estonia 4-0 in the A. Le Coq Arena. Keith Andrews had opened the scoring with a header in the 14th minute as Ireland looked to be the superior team. This superiority became a numerical one when Stepanov was given a second yellow card for a late tackle on Robbie Keane after a mistake in the Estonian defence. Although the Irish could have scored further goals it was still 0-1 at half-time

In the second half Ireland stretched the play to make the numerical advantage tell as Ireland went in search of a second goal. It came in the 67th minute, thanks to good work by Jon Walters. The Stoke forward won the ball and laid it off to Keane who then gave McGeady the chance to test Pareiko. The former Celtic winger's shot was pushed towards Keane who looped the ball to the back post for Walters to nod home, despite the efforts of the Estonian players on the goal-line. Ireland's goal scoring record holder, Robbie Keane, grabbed his 52nd goal for Ireland when he tapped in after Pareiko fumbled a free kick by Andrews.

The Estonian nightmare continued as Piiroja was dismissed for a second yellow, cleverly won by Keane's persistence and keen appeal for the referee Viktor Kassai to reach for a card. Matters got worse for the Estonians with just two minutes left as substitute Ats Purje's late tackle on fellow replacement Stephen Hunt allowed Keane to stroke home a penalty on a memorable night for the Republic.
Estonia 0-4 Ireland

Estonia: Sergei Pareiko, Ragnar Klavan, Andrei Stepanov, Raio Piiroja, Enar Jaager, Tarmo Kink (Ats Purje 68), Dmitri Kruglov, Andrei Stepanov, Martin Vunk (Joel Lindpere 61), Konstantin Vassiljev, Jarmo Ahjupera (Vladamir Voskobonikov 55)

Republic of Ireland: Shay Given, Stephen Kelly, Richard Dunne, Sean St Ledger, Stephen Ward, Aidan McGeady, Keith Andrews, Glenn Whelan, (Keith Fahey 78) Damien Duff (Stephen Hunt 73), Robbie Keane, Jon Walters (Simon Cox 83).

Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary). Attendance: 10,000

Euro 2012 - 2nd Leg Ireland v Estonia- Kick Off 7:45pm 11 Nov 2011 in Aviva

Ireland Seal the Deal with Draw

Following the result in Tallin on the previous Friday it was likely that the action on the pitch in the return leg would be something of an anti-climax. Any fears that the Irish players might be complacent were quickly dispelled as they set about their task with determination. There was a party atmosphere in the Aviva Stadium amongst the supporters but Trapattoni's charges on the pitch were committed to their task. It was no surprise when Ireland took the lead just after half an hour. Kevin Doyle was allowed to find space inside the area to head Duff's corner goalwards and Londak's parry was more of a pat, which failed miserably to get the ball out of the danger zone. The left-back Stephen Ward gleefully gobbled up the chance. Ireland looked comfortable as they went in ahead at half time.

As indicated before the match Aiden McGeady was brought on for Stephen Hunt 14 minutes into the second half. Despite showing some good touches almost immediately it was at the other end of the pitch that the next goal came. Estonia provided an unexpected jolt when Konstantin Vassiljev struck from outside the box. Shay Given got down sluggishly and allowed the ball to slip through his fingers. It was only the second goal that Ireland had conceded in 11 matches. The Irish keeper had been similarly at fault for the other one, scored by Armenia's Henrik Mkhitaryan, again from distance, in Dublin.

By the time that the final whistle sounded Ireland had made the European Championship for only the second time. "The players deserve to have a party and to drink beer," Trapattoni said, "but maybe it's better that I don't see it."

Ireland 1-1 Estonia

REP OF IRELAND: Given (Aston Villa); John O’Shea (Sunderland), Dunne (Aston Villa), St Ledger (Leicester), Ward (Wolves); Duff (Fulham), Andrews (Ipswich Town), Whelan (Stoke City), Hunt (Wolves); Keane (LA Galaxy), Doyle (Wolves). Subs: McGeady (Spartak Moscow) for Hunt (59 mins), Cox (West Brom) for Keane (68 mins), Fahey (Birmingham) for Duff (79 mins).

ESTONIA: Londak (Bobo Glimt); Jaager (Aalesunds), Rahn (Tianjin Songjiang), Klavan (AZ Alkmaar), Kruglov (Rostov); Teniste (Sogndal), Vassiljev (Amkar Perm), Vunk (Famagusta), Lindpere (New York Red Bulls); Saag (Silkborg), Voskoboinikov (Himki). Subs: Puri (Lombard-Papa) for Kruglov (18 mins), Kink (Middlesbrough) for Lindpere (54 mins), Purje (Ethnikos Achna) for Voskoboinikov (73 mins).

Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). Attendance: 51, 150

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