On this day 25 years ago, Ireland advanced to the last 16 of World Cup '94

Thu, Jun 27 2019

Roy Keane came closest to scoring on the day with an audacious lob in the 81st minute. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

25 years ago today, the Republic of Ireland advanced to the quarter finals of the 1994 World Cup, the second time in two tournaments they’d managed the feat.

Ireland’s final group game against Norway was going to be no easy matter as, first, both first choice fullbacks Denis Irwin and Terry Phelan missed the match due to suspension.

Following on from the incident against Mexico, manager Jack Charlton was given a touchline ban by FIFA due to his actions during the substitution of John Aldridge for Tommy Coyne in the 2-1 defeat.

A draw was enough for Ireland to advance into the next round, but they also were aware that Norway were also chasing the game to have a chance of advancing in the competition.

The Republic played like a team again during the encounter, the lack of severe heat providing a balanced playing field between the sides in Giants Stadium following the heat of Orlando.

Charlton seemed to have set up Ireland to play a much more defensive style of football, the Irish seeming to starve Norway of chances at goal and possession in the middle of the park.

This resulted in the Norwegians playing a direct long ball system, which suited the aerially superior Irish defence.

The boys in green seemed to have acclimatised well to being back in New Jersey days after the loss to Mexico.

They were more effective in attack and came closer to scoring than their Norwegian counterparts, Ireland dominating in the possession stats all afternoon.

In a game of very few chances, Ireland's best chance fell to Roy Keane in the 81st minute. Keane saw the Norwegian goalkeeper Erik Thorstvedt off his line and decided to try an audacious chipped shot.

The ball flew over Thorstvedt’s head but it landed on the roof of the goal instead of bulging inside the net.

Another sea of green was in attendance in Giants Stadium and the dominant Irish fans chanted Charlton's name as the game ended as Ireland had got the result they most desperately needed.

Ireland ended their Group E campaign on four points, managing two draws and one win, and remarkably reached the last 16 stage for the second consecutive time.

All four teams ended up with four points and with identical goal difference. Mexico topped Group E by virtue of goals scored, while Norway finished bottom of the group as they scored just one goal in the three matches and had no other assets in their favour.

Ireland managed to come in second place ahead of Italy due to head-to-head record, Aldridge’s late goal against Mexico also having a major influence in Ireland getting into the last 16.  

Ireland had now progressed in what was their second ever World Cup appearance, but finishing second meant that Ireland would face a much stronger outfit in the round of 16.

The Netherlands were to be the in the next round as they would also have to face another gruelling fixture in the scorching heat of Orlando.