The issue of Giovanni Trapattoni's future as Republic of Ireland manager could once again be top of the agenda after his youthful looking side suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to Greece at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday evening to close an uneven 2012 on a low note.
The Italian was forced to field a much-changed XI to the team that were hammered by Germany in the last home game due to injuries but like the 6-1 defeat just four weeks ago, after an encouraging opening quarter to the game, Ireland were forced back by the opposition.
Things could have been a lot different if the Israeli official Eitan Shmuelevich had spotted the blatant handball by Konstantinos Stafylidis from Stephen Ward's cross after just a minute as the visitors rode their luck in the early exchanges.
Ireland dominated the first quarter but failed to test Orestis Karnezis in the Greek goal as Simon Cox wasted a glorious opportunity after good work from man-of-the-match Seamus Coleman down the right. The Nottingham Forest striker mistimed his jump and could only head wide from a couple of yards.
That was as good as it got for Trapattoni's side in the first period as the Greeks began to find their feet with some slick interplay. The Irish back four were giving the visitors far too much room and shortly after the half-hour mark they were made pay as Giorgios Samaras fed Jose Holebas on the edge of the box before he turned John O'Shea and fired past David Forde with a low effort.
As promised, the Italian tactician introduced Wes Hoolahan at the break and he, along with Kevin Doyle, nearly made an instant impact. James McCarthy’s shot was parried by the goalkeeper and when it seemed Doyle would tap home, the Wolves striker was dragged to the ground but once again the referee waved away the appeals.
The home side had a number of set pieces which were wasted and despite not providing any attacking threat in the second period, the visitors held out comfortably in the end as the Boys in Green ran out of ideas in the final third.