Ireland disappoint in Azerbaijan draw…04/09/2021

Captain Seamus Coleman has been forced  to withdraw from the Ireland squad for Tuesday evening’s encounter with Serbia and will be replaced  by Cyrus Christie.

Ireland needed an 87th minute goal by Shane Duffy to garner a point from this afternoon’s 2022 World Cup qualifier in the Aviva Stadium against Azerbaijan. Ireland were hugely disappointing and a mere shadow of the side that produced a memorable performance in Portugal last Wednesday. Ireland did start brightly and dominated the contest during the opening period but thereafter the performance levels dropped.  While there were  a number of scoring opportunities created the standard of finishing was disappointing. Save for one error in dropping a simple cross late in the second half, Gavin Bazunu again performed admirably. There were excellent contributions from Josh Cullen and Adam Idah but the remainder of the starting eleven were below par. The visitors took a shock lead in the minute of first half added time with a fine shot which gave Bazunu no chance but the surprising failure of Seamus Coleman to close down the scorer was very disappointing. Ireland dominated possession during the second half but were unable to find a scoring touch until the closing minutes when Duffy got on the end of an excellent Cullen cross to equalise. There were a couple of other excellent scoring opportunities but our continuing failure to convert remains a painful bugbear. 

Gavin Bazunu; Seamus Coleman (C), Shane Duffy, John Egan; Matt Doherty James McClean; Jayson Molumby, Josh Cullen, Troy Parrott; Adam Idah, Aaron Connolly

Daryl Horgan for Connolly 45′
Conor Hourihane for Molumby 63′
Callum Robinson for Parrott 63′
James Collins for Doherty 80′
Alan Browne for Cullen 88′

———————————————————————————————————————–Ireland suffered a deflating and undeserved two one defeat by hosts Portugal in Faro this Wednesday evening. While the outcome most probably puts paid to the chances of progressing to the Qatar World Cup Finals, the performance gives solid grounds for optimism, provided of course that tonight’s levels are sustained and built upon.  The management team provided the players with a clear and astute game plan which was followed with great conviction. There were of course some lapses which have to be expected but they were contained to a minimum.

Statistically the hosts dominated possession but for the greater part did not impose themselves on a disciplined Irish team. Ireland took the lead on the stroke of half time through John Egan and held their advantage until the 89th minute when Christiano Ronaldo scored  the equaliser and the same player reprised the effort in the sixth minute of added  time.

The concession of a lengthy debated 10th minute penalty was disappointing but teenage goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu provided an uplifting tonic with a splendid save. For one so young, Bazunu exudes a calm confidence that offers reassurance to those in front of him. The back three of Dara O’Shea, Shane Duffy and John Egan, which was a positional change from previous outings, looked solid and whilst disrupted by the 35th minute injury which forced  the withdrawal of O’Shea and the brave introduction of eighteen year old Andrew Omobamidele, maintained it’s composure. Captain Seamus Coleman and Matt Doherty occupied wing back positions and performed excellently.
In midfield Josh Cullen, who has been enjoying a very consistent run of matches and performance with RSC Anderlecht, was excellent. Surprise selection Jamie McGrath justified his inclusion on the right side of midfield and provided some fine dead ball deliveries. The front duo of Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah worked tirelessly with the Cork man particularly impressive in his central role. The Galway man offered great energy but will be disappointed with his finishing which lacked composure but that will hopefully improve with time.

The goal scored  by John Egan on the cusp of half-time was impressive with the Cork man reacting brilliantly to a fine corner delivery from McGrath to head an excellent goal. The disappointment of all at the end of the match was palpable and one hopes that they can recover from their exertions and provide a fitting performance against Azerbaijan, who went down to a two one defeat in Luxembourg this evening, when they visit the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Gavin Bazunu; Seamus Coleman (C), Dara O’Shea, Shane Duffy, John Egan, Matt Doherty; Jeff Hendrick, Josh Cullen, Jamie McGrath; Adam Idah, Aaron Connolly

Andrew Omobamidele for O’Shea 35′
James McClean for Connolly 72′
James Collins for Idah 90′
Jayson Molumby for McGrath 90′

Manager Stephen Kenny has named his Republic of Ireland starting eleven for this evening’s 2022 World Cup qualifier against hosts Portugal in Faro-Louie. The inclusion of St Mirren midfielder Jamie McGrath is the only real surprise. McGrath was set to move to fellow Scottish Premiership club Hibernian but the proposed transfer was not completed last night because of on administrative error.

Gavin Bazunu; Seamus Coleman (C), Shane Duffy, John Egan, Dara O’Shea, Matt Doherty; Jeff Hendrick, Josh Cullen, Jamie McGrath; Aaron Connolly, Adam Idah

It has also been confirmed  that Shane Long has tested positive for Covid19 and he is in isolation from the rest of the group.