Ireland were playing under the title ‘Irish Free State’ when Spain won 5-0 in Dublin 71 years ago, but in the World Cup qualifier Friday, Germany gave Giovanni Trapattoni’s men a lesson that will earn its own unfortunate place in the history books.
Minus most of their regular starters, Ireland were fodder for a German side that came into this tie under some pressure, despite picking up six points in their previous two World Cup qualifiers.
It leaft Joachim Löw’s men high on confidence heading to Tuesday’s game against Sweden.
Ireland will be questioning the continued stewardship of Trapattoni, who insisted he could rebuild his side after the disappointment of their European Championships adventure where they lost all three games.
Irish fans had tempted fate by calling for a change in personnel after the summer humiliation and had their wishes granted this week, albeit unplanned.
Shay Given, Damien Duff (both recently retired), Richard Dunne and Robbie Keane were all absent for the first time in 13 years, while just four of the 11 that constituted the manager’s first-choice line-up in Poland were available due to injury.
Trapattoni’s side was therefore an untried and untested one, and because of that the Italian ditched his usual 4-4-2 formation, with the emphasis on nullifying Germany’s attacking threat.
Löw had to plan without captain Philipp Lahm and Mats Hummels but such are the German coach’s options, he still named a back four from Champions League teams and left Lukas Podolski and Toni Kroos on the bench.
The first half action displayed the chasm in quality in its starkest form as Germany controlled every part of the field and went into the break with a two goal lead and looking as comfortable as any team has done at Lansdowne Road in recent times.
Marco Reus, picked ahead of Arsenal’s Lukas Podolski, scored both goals and left Ireland needing a miracle after the restart. Needless to say, it never arrived.
The Borussia Dortmund forward Reus was quiet until the half hour as Germany struggled to turn their monopoly on possession but in a 12-minute burst of action, Reus found himself in the centre of the action.
First, after John O’Shea was caught out dithering in his own box, the German was booked for diving by Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli when he should have earned a penalty.
His revenge would be swift and ruthless.
Bastian Schweinsteiger’s chip into the box found full back Marcel Schmelzer racing behind Aiden McGeady and though he lost control of the ball, it fell to Reus, who chipped home past Westwood.
Eight minutes later, as Ireland struggled to retain possession, Reus hit the net again.
Seamus Coleman lost possession in a rare attack, and after James McCarthy slipped in midfield to cede possession to Mesut Özil, it took just two sharp passes to find Reus who thumped home from the edge of the box giving Westwood no chance.
Shane Long replaced Keith Fahey as the hosts went on the attack, but it was German sub Toni Kroos who hit the net on the hour mark to wrap up six minutes of hell for Ireland.
Özil knocked home from the spot after Darren O’Dea conceded a rash penalty on 55, before Miroslav Klose grabbed his 65th international goal three minutes later, rounding Westwood and finishing from an acute angle.
Then Kroos joined the party, volleying home in style.
With minutes remaining, and the stadium half empty Kroos added a sumptuous sixth to wrap up a thoroughly convincing victory.
Andy Keogh’s headed goal wrapped up the action, but there were few left to witness it.