While watching on ITV around the 14th minute, I heard the lead commentator utter the line: ‘Ireland have caused them a couple of moments of grief so far.’
I laughed at the irony of that in a political sense, then spent the next hour miserable at the reality of it in a footballing one. As a disclaimer, I’m half English and half Irish – so I’m allowed to say whatever I want.
Here’s how they fared.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Darren Randolph – 6: The little Cruyff turn to send Calvert-Lewin halfway to Croydon was enough to make him the Irish highlight regardless of how many goals he conceded.
Cyrus Christie – 4: The worst ‘right back’ performance since Frankee responded to Eamon’s call-out song in 2004.
Shane Duffy – 3: Beaten easily for the opener and didn’t look comfortable with the ball at his feet, almost letting Calvert-Lewin in for a second midway through the first half.
John Egan – 5: Made the correct decision to bow out of this early. The best showing of judgement an Irish player made all evening.
Matt Doherty – 5: Can I potentially suggest to Stephen Kenny that he plays his best player in his correct position if he wishes to maximise the return?
Alan Browne – 4: Gareth Southgate had a touch in the 40th minute that enabled England to take a quick throw by blocking clearance. It amounted to a larger contribution than that of Alan Browne’s.
Conor Hourihane – 5: Hourihane offers one thing – set-piece delivery. In a game where Ireland rarely got within 40 yards from goal, his influence was limited.
Jeff Hendrick – 5: In every single competitive game he plays, I praise him for his work off the ball. I am frequently lambasted for it, so I’m happy to call him out for not closing down Winks for the opener.
Daryl Horgan – 6: Did very well to find the space down the right and put in two dangerous crosses early on.
Callum O’Dowda – 5: Honestly not too sure he touched the ball at any stage, but that still makes him Ireland’s fourth-best player.
Adam Idah – 4: Seen speaking to FA officials at half-time, pleading for them to see if he can switch allegiances. He gets the four because of his ambition and nothing else.
Dara O’Shea – 8: Always getting an eight for possessing the most Irish name on the team sheet.
James McClean – 5: Came on; committed a foul; booed by fake crowd noise.
Kevin Long – 5: His cousin is actually a friend of mine and I’d like to take this opportunity to say hello to her.
Robbie Brady – 5: Did I stop watching at this point? Check Jayson Molumby’s rating to find out.
Ronan Curtis – 9: Had a shot on target.
Jayson Molumby – 5: I did, yeah.
Nick Pope – 6: Unlike the Pope not to do Ireland a solid given all those years of adoration, but they’re the breaks. Relatively unchallenged for the entire game, and probably would have had to apply more focus if he stayed home and watched GBBO, which is why he nipped off at half-time.
Micheál Keane – 6: Ní raibh an croí aige a thír dhúchais a ghortú. Maith an fear.
Harry Maguire – 8: It’s not often Harry Maguire gets complimented for using his head, but on this occasion, it’s hard to knock him. Unless you’re a Greek officer.
Tyrone Mings – 6: Someone please make a GIF of his flick into the path of Saka in the 50th minute.
Reece James – 5: England have a list of about 14 possible players who could occupy this berth, and James did nothing extraordinarily well, even though he was being marked by an out-of-position Matt Doherty.
Mason Mount – 7: Spread play beautifully on a couple of occasions, and probably walked more than he ran given the time and space he was afforded.
Harry Winks – 6: Terrific cross for the opening goal. Never pressed, so took his time on the ball when required.
Bukayo Saka – 6: Really failed to have an impact in the first half, but at least afforded Grealish the space to cut inside time and time again. Fouled for the penalty.
Jadon Sancho – 7: Kind of summed him up as a player. Did absolutely nothing for long periods and still scored a cracker. Might get into the Irish team.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – 6: That might have been the best penalty I’ve ever seen.
Seaicead Grealish – 3: Cowardly peeled away from Harry Winks just before the opener so he wouldn’t have to see his cross blocked by the first man. Pathetic.
Dean Henderson – 6: Made one save, with his feet, while he was falling over.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 6: Ainsley Cory Maitland-Niles (born 29 August 1997) is an English professional footballer who plays as a right-back or central midfielder for Premier League club Arsenal and the England national team.
Phil Foden – 6: Bad hair.
Tammy Abraham – 6: Better hair.
Jude Bellingham – 10: Year old.
- Our 7/1 treble for Friday’s South American qualifers
- Our 22/1 Same Game Multi for tonight’s TV match between Salford and Bolton
- Peter Crouch: I couldn’t believe Liverpool signed me – I thought they’d want the cream of the crop!
- Revealed: Ozil Offers To Pay Arteta’s Wages If Arsenal Keep Playing This Bad
- Fulham Penalty Pain Sees Punter Turn £1 Into £2,500 Off 14-Fold Acca