14 August 2010

Ireland v. Argentina: Just Messi-ng with Ireland

The fact that it was the first day of Ramadhan didn't deter me from going to this match. Seriously, even if you ignored that this was Ireland's first match in the all-new Landsdowne Road (or the Aviva Stadium, as its called these days), it's not every day that one would be able to see Argentina play. This wasn't some sort of Argentina B team though, it was the full squad. The real thing.
The Liverpool and the not-so Liverpool contingent
Still skeptical about the whole thing especially after the FAI's penny-pinching opening show (what in the world was it supposed to be anyway?), I was half-expecting Lionel Messi to only make a token appearance towards the end of the match but he actually started and played close to 60 minutes of the game. Of course, being Messi, he caused Ireland all sorts of trouble.

Ireland were completely outclassed by the Argentinians throughout the match but ironically, the only way Argentina could find a goal was through some dodgy decision-making by the match officials. Ángel di María's goal will be in the history books but his job on the night was made even much easier by the hapless Paul McShane.

After that, other than a few dramatic attempts by Ireland towards the end, the match just lumbered on. One of those games where if you were watching it on TV, you'd be channel-surfing. I didn't have the option so, I decided to focus on other bits around the stadium. Here's a few of them:

Clockwise from top left: Support from the relatives for Robbie Keane's 100th cap; unlike Michel Platini, Eamon Dunphy didn't get any boos from the crowd but this one improvised banner did stand out; the non-prawn sandwich support and the scoreboard.

At the end of the day, it was a brilliant night just because of its historical importance rather than anything else. The stadium is brilliant (feels more like a posh conference centre rather than a stadium) and would definitely be a fitting home for Irish rugby and football as well as the venue for the 2011 Europa League final, no matter which clubs play in it. Hopefully, I'd get free tickets to that one as well...

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