Rating Rep. of Ireland's Players in World Cup Qualifier vs. Sweden

Willie GannonSenior Writer IMarch 22, 2013

Rating Rep. of Ireland's Players in World Cup Qualifier vs. Sweden

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    Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic of Ireland team earned a hugely deserved draw away to Sweden in World Cup qualification.

    The draw maintains the Italian's record with Ireland. They have not lost a single away qualification match since he took charge all the way back in 2008.

    The scoreless draw also gives the Irish their ninth clean sheet in their last 14 away matches.

    Ireland were superb across midfield and defence all night and left the Swede's and the mighty Zlatan Ibrahimovic reduced to pop-shots from distance and long, deep crosses from their own half.

    Read on to see Ireland's player ratings against Sweden in the fourth match of World Cup qualification from Group C.

David Forde: 8

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    David Forde, at 33 years of age, became the oldest player to make his competitive debut for Ireland against Sweden.

    The Millwall stopper has enjoyed a good season for Kenny Jackett's team and was impressive for Giovanni Trapattoni's resilient side. 

    He was rarely called into action, but when he was, he made everything look simple—as all good goalkeepers do. Forde made one particularly good save from a Sebastian Larrson's cross-come free kick at the end of the first half. The Millwallman dived full length to tip the effort around the post.

    Forde impressed under the Swede's long balls from midfield and collected more than one cross when under pressure. 

Seamus Coleman: 8

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    Everton's Seamus Coleman basically cemented his place at right-back for years to come with an incredibly mature performance against Sweden. He never allowed his opposite number to get in behind him all night and constantly offered Jonathan Walters support going forward.

    He used his phenomenal pace to great effect throughout by overlapping Walters who moved inside to support Robbie Keane and Shane Long. The end effect of Coleman's movement was Ireland snapping into a fluid 3-4-3 formation from a rigid Trapattoni 4-4-2.

    Coleman made one bad mistake at the beginning of the second half when he tried to be clever around Ibrahimovic only for the Paris Saint-Germain striker to rob him of the ball. However, Coleman's incredible pace aided him in getting back in around the striker to take the ball back.

Marc Wilson: 7

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    Like Coleman on the right-hand side, Marc Wilson also made himself a mainstay for years to come with a disciplined performance at left-back.

    The Stoke City defender is one of the most versatile players in the Ireland squad and slotted in at left-back with aplomb. He was never beaten to the back line and played the game in an incredibly simple and effective way that frustrated Sweden all night.

Ciaran Clark: 8

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    The 23-year-old Ciaran Clark did little to disrupt his growing reputation as one of the best young defenders in the Premier League. The Aston Villa skipper dealt with Zlatan Ibrahimovic with the kind of ease shown by international defenders of far more experience.

    He led Ireland from the back and provided great pace and alertness to cut out danger before it even looked like it would ever happen.

John O'Shea: 7

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    John O'Shea took on the role of experienced mentor against Sweden as he guided his fellow defenders to a superb 0-0 draw.

    The Sunderland defender put in his best performance of a very average season and looked every bit the player he did when playing for Manchester United. He played in a simple style and manner and took no chances whatsoever as he kept to his manager's rigid instructions.

Jonathan Walters: 6

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    The hardest working player in the Premier League put in a typically industrious performance for Ireland against the Swedes. Jonathan Walters combined with Seamus Coleman to great effect to frustrate Sweden in both directions—forward and back.

    While Walters did not get forward as much as he, or we, would have liked, the Stoke City midfielder-come-striker was defensively superb and ran himself into the ground. Initially, the forward was left out of the team for Hull City's Robbie Brady, but his inclusion turned out to be a brilliant selection by Trapattoni.

James McClean: 6

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    Like his Sunderland teammate, John O'Shea, James McClean has not enjoyed a good season. And like his fellow Black Cat, he also put in his best performance of the season.

    Still inexperienced at this level, McClean was at his very best when attacking the full-back straight down the line. His power, strength and incredible speed meant he was a constant direct threat. However, when he cut inside, which he did far too often, he immediately ran into roadblocks. 

    He needs to learn how to dictate to the defender rather than let the full-back dictate how or where he will attack. If he can learn this complex skill, he will be a player of some repute. But it is all up to him.

James McCarthy: 8

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    James McCarthy did his growing reputation no harm with a superb man-of-the-match performance. The Wigan midfielder was initially left out of the squad in favour of Glenn Whelan. However, the Stoke City man got injured in a training session just before the match, and all of a sudden, McCarthy was in.

    He was superb.

    McCarthy controlled midfield and dictated the tempo throughout, whether he was snapping into tackles, making incisive interceptions or playing through-balls.

    At 22 years old, McCarthy can build upon this performance, and if Trapattoni is half the manager he thinks he is, then the Wigan youngster will command a position from here on out.

Paul Green: 7

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    Paul Green was much derided in the buildup to the match by large sections of the Irish media and fanbase. The Leeds United midfielder has not had a stellar season at club level and has never really impressed at international level.

    Saturday night, however, he was superb. Playing in a screening role in front of the back four, Green cut the supply lines to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Swedish attack and forced them to go out wide when they were dealt with by the excellent Marc Wilson and Seamus Coleman.

    Green was superbly disciplined, and his mobility means he could now command this role going forward.

Robbie Keane: 6

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    Robbie Keane was one of the hardest working players on the pitch against Sweden. The L.A. Galaxy striker played just behind the ineffective Shane Long.

    He marauded across the back four all night and dropped into midfield to help his team at every opportunity. The side effect to Keane's work rate so deep was that he was a non-entity as a forward threat.

    Chances were few and far between all match. Keane made one massive mistake toward the end of the game when he failed to control a lobbed cross to Walters with the goalmouth gaping. 

    Other than that, he played a selfless captain's role.

Shane Long: 5

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    West Brom's Shane Long started off the season on fire, but injury after injury has more or less wrecked his season.

    That showed against Sweden where he looked like he had very little energy and constantly made the wrong runs for his teammates. He latched onto one brilliant through-ball from James McCarthy in the opening exchanges and wrong-footed the entire Swedish defence superbly. However, after doing all the hard work, he smashed the ball over when he should have scored.

    This was to be his last real chance of a lacklustre game.

Substitutes: 7

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    Wes Hoolahan: 7

    The calls to get Hoolahan into the Irish squad, never mind the team, have been going on for years now. The ex-Shelbourne star has been one of the stars of the season in the Premier League for Norwich. When given his chance as a late substitute for Robbie Keane, he did not disappoint.

     

    Conor Sammon: 5

    The 26-year-old Derby County striker was a controversial inclusion in the squad at the expense of Kevin Doyle. He cannot be faulted for his three-minute cameo in his third appearance for Ireland.

     

    Andy Keogh: 5

    Giovanni Trapattoni's favourite player came on with seven minutes to go and did everything he was asked to do.

Giovanni Trapattoni: 7

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    Giovani Trapattoni has his fair share of detractors and is usually blamed for his team's poor performances whilst his players claim the glory for good performances.

    Saturday night was all about the manager as his tactics, set-up and formation worked to superb effect. The inclusions of Paul Green and Jonathan Walters appeared to be a master-stoke. His midfield and defence were incredibly disciplined, and with the game there to be won, he made adventurous changes.

    All in all, it was a very good night for the under-fire Italian.