Past Meetings: Aldridge Runs Riot

aldridge keane

Ireland have met Latvia on four previous occasions with one Irish striker proving the scourge of the Baltic nation. John Aldridge scored eight times against the Latvians including a hat-trick at Lansdowne Road that sent Ireland on their way to World Cup qualification.

Over the course of the USA 94 and Euro 96 campaigns, Liverpool’s Aldridge scored in each of the Republic’s meetings with the Eastern Europeans.

Overall, Aldo scored 19 goals in 69 matches for Ireland, his final strike against the Latvians moved him to within one of Frank Stapleton’s all-time top scorer record, a feat that would allude the fan favourite.

Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane’s first match in charge of Ireland sees  Friday’s visitors to the Aviva Stadium return to Dublin 23 years after their first meeting with the Republic.

In a World Cup qualifier in 1992, a young Roy Keane, who had broken onto the scene a year earlier earning his début against Chile, was making his eighth appearance and was in the starting line-up alongside Andy Townsend in midfield. An Aldridge hattrick and a Kevin Sheedy strike earned a decisive win for Jack Charlton’s men. 

“In the away fixture in June 1993, another Aldridge score and a rare goal for Paul McGrath sealed a 2-0 win for the Boys in Green towards ultimate qualification for USA 94.”

On the back of their performances in the United States when the Republic defeated eventual finalists Italy and progressed to the second round, they were drawn with Latvia once more in the qualifiers for Euro 96 in England.

John Aldridge continued his knack for scoring against the Baltic side and grabbed another brace to add to a John Sheridan strike in September 1994.

Incredibly Aldridge scored twice more in the home fixture as Ireland posted a 2-1 win at Lansdowne but defeats to Austria would signal the beginning of the end of the Charlton era.

Latvia defeated Turkey in a play-off to qualify for the 2004 European Championship, their first ever appearance at a finals, where they earned a 0-0 draw with Germany in the group stages.

They finished fifth in World Cup 2014 qualifying in a group won by Bosnia & Herzagovina.

With 167 caps between 1992 and 2010, Vitālijs Astafjevs holds the European record for the most played matches in a national team.

The current manager is former Southampton striker Marian Pahars. His side are currently ranked 117th in the FIFA standings.

 

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