Republic of Ireland impress with draw as Portugal’s Pepe is sent off | World Cup 2022 qualifiers

No targets and few pictures however practically 50,000 Irish spectators left the stadium glad after watching their group give as good as they bought in opposition to a group who will probably be among the many favourites in the event that they attain subsequent yr’s World Cup. Portugal will try this as winners of Group A in the event that they keep away from defeat to Serbia on Sunday. However they have been grateful to go away Dublin with a degree after being flustered by Stephen Kenny’s shiny Irish group, who spent the ultimate 10 minutes urgent for victory after Pepe was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Performing in entrance of a full home in Dublin for the primary time because the begin of the pandemic, Ireland rode into the sport on a wavelet of optimism. Shows since March’s depressing dwelling defeat to Luxembourg had restored perception that Kenny’s revolution may truly work, {that a} new era of participant was rising to assist apply a brand new model.

Qualification for the World Cup was already out of attain however there was nonetheless a way that the hosts have been taking part in for his or her future and that one other encouraging outing in opposition to Portugal, and a vengeful one in Luxembourg on Sunday, would safe a renewed contract for Kenny, whose current deal expires in July.

The guests weren’t precisely daunted: their energy was demonstrated by the truth that their supervisor, Fernando Santos, felt capable of go away gamers such as Diogo Jota, Rúben Dias, João Felix and João Cancelo on the bench, maybe to protect them for the showdown with Serbia.

Séamus Coleman made positive that the hosts didn’t give their illustrious guests an excessive amount of respect: when Cristiano Ronaldo went down clutching his proper leg within the third minute after being dispossessed close to mid-way, the Ireland captain waved vigorously at his teammates to play on slightly than put the ball out for the Manchester United participant to obtain therapy that, it turned out, he didn’t want.

The house followers jeered each misplaced cross by Portugal, of which there have been a number of within the opening minutes. However Portugal nonetheless put collectively way over Ireland, who have been pressured to play with out the ball for many of the primary 20 minutes. That is not how Kenny likes it however a rustic of Ireland’s limitations must know how you can do it properly. They did so.

Within the eighth minute Ronaldo tried to show Coleman a lesson by dashing previous him within the Irish field, however the Everton man recovered to divert the ahead’s shot out for a nook. Gavin Bazunu was not pressured into motion till the 14th minute, when he palmed away a shot by André Silva after a fast free-kick.

Ireland’s Chiedozie Ogbene offered a strong threat against Danilo and the Portugal defence.
Ireland’s Chiedozie Ogbene provided a powerful risk in opposition to Danilo and the Portugal defence. {Photograph}: Dan Sheridan/INPHO/Shutterstock

Coleman foiled Ronaldo once more three minutes later, flinging himself in entrance of the striker’s shot from 12 yards after Gonçalo Guedes bought in behind Ireland down the best.

Rui Patrício was not known as upon till he rushed out of his field to forestall Chiedozie Ogbene from seizing on a weak again cross. Within the twenty sixth minute the Rotherham winger led Ireland’s first harmful assault. It got here by a break that began within the dwelling field with Matt Doherty and concluded with Callum Robinson going for a purpose with a curling shot from vast on the left. Patrício dived to push it away.

Robinson tried once more from lengthy vary after a neat transfer a couple of minutes later however his shot flew vast. By the tip of the primary half Ireland have been passing and transferring with confidence, inflicting a lot of discomfort to Portugal. Ogbene may have opened the scoring earlier than the interval however headed vast from a cross by Robinson.

Ogbene had a nice sport all spherical, troubling the guests with his energy and directness. When Matheus Nunes was flustered into giving the ball away in his personal field within the 53rd minute, Ogbene tapped it to Josh Cullen, who tried to curve it into the underside nook from 20 yards however couldn’t beat Patrício.

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Cullen and Jeff Hendrick delivered polished performances in midfield, the place Bruno Fernandes did virtually nothing for Portugal – till beginning a transfer within the 66th minute that ought to have resulted in a purpose. However Ronaldo, to his personal disbelief, headed vast from seven yards after a cross by Silva.

Fernandes was withdrawn quickly afterwards as Santos tried to jolt his group into motion. However Ireland have been the subsequent to threaten, Enda Stevens lifting a shot over the bar after extra glorious work by Ogbene. Then Pepe bought himself a second yellow card for clumping Robinson with his arm after being caught attempting to saunter out from the again.

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