Macedonia v Ireland: The player ratings
It was all doom and gloom beforehand but Ireland did the needful in Skopje to maintain the challenge for Euro 2012 qualification. Here's how the players rated.
Top class again from our best ever goalkeeper. His situation at Manchester City is far from ideal but that will be resolved this summer and it had no adverse effect on his performance here. Perfect handling, and produced the game’s key stop to deny Pandev in the first half. Rating: 9
A decent night’s work for the Fulham man. Another who needs more Premier League game-time to really develop fully, but having beaten off the challenges of Paul McShane and Kevin Foley, he’s a reliable option for right back, although still hasn’t done enough to avoid the chop when Sean St Ledger and Richard Dunne return. Rating: 7
A duck-billed platypus in an “Up Ireland” hat would have been an improvement on Paul Green
Any Ireland game these days which ends without a crucial Kilbane error has to be satisfactory. Still hanging on, still doing a half-decent job and still as likeable as ever, but it needs someone – Stephen Ward looks best equipped – to demand the left-back spot for the remainder of this campaign and beyond. Not helped by Aiden McGeady’s unpredictability ahead of him. Rating: 6
All in all, a hell of a performance from O’Dea. Set the tone by taking out - in a manner more Al Capone than Peter Stringfellow - one Macedonian in the first minute, and while he and O’Shea were undone by the movement of Pandev at times, the Celtic man lacked nothing in attitude. Probably his best Ireland performance so far and at 24, he’s still young for a centre half, so all’s good. Rating: 8
O’Shea struggled to get to grips with Pandev, giving away one penalty and blessed not to concede another. Much better after half-time but by that stage Macedonia’s spirit was broken. Rating: 6
Back alongside his stalwart partner from the last World Cup qualifying campaign, and the solid reliability of this central midfield axis was definitely an improvement. Will never be the composed playmaker that will control the flow of a game, but Whelan’s strengths lie elsewhere and he’s definitely an asset. Rating: 7
Has missed virtually an entire season and this was his first competitive international since that tearful night in Paris in 2009. A duck-billed platypus in an “Up Ireland” hat would have been an improvement on Paul Green but it was still good to have Andrews back in situ. Quietly effective. Rating: 7
As always, inexplicable. There are things McGeady can do with the ball that no-one else can, and there are things he can’t do that eight-year-olds have perfected. Perhaps the most frustrating Ireland player of this or any other generation – precisely because he looks like he could be a world-beater. Rating: 6
The relentless commitment was evident again, and his mean dead-ball delivery would have caused a few more problems if Dunne or St Ledger were there to attack them. Like the rest of his attack-minded colleagues, he faded as the game fizzled out in the second half. Rating: 6
A competitive debut for the West Brom man, and it could have been a scoring one had the officials got the offside call right in the first half. His understanding with Keane saw him promoted at the unfortunate Shane Long’s expense, and there were a few flashes of a promising telepathy here. Much quieter after half-time. Rating: 7
West Ham may not have seen the best of Robbie but he’s found his form at just the right time, hitting five international goals in a fortnight. The magnitude of his achievement in surpassing the 50-goal barrier is something which will not accurately be measured for many decades, and in addition to his two goals, he demonstrated ample leadership – particularly when giving McGeady and Kilbane a bollicking for a defensive mix-up in the first half. Back to his best, and hopefully a nice summer holiday won’t take the edge off him. Rating: 9
Unlucky to miss out on a starting place, Long was introduced at a time when all the life had been sucked out of Ireland’s attacking play, and struggled to make much of an impact. Rating: 5
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