We were back at the Aviva Stadium as Martin O’Neill’s much-changed side faced Iceland.
Good evening one and all and welcome along to our live coverage of Ireland’s clash with Iceland from the Aviva Stadium.
After Friday’s World Cup qualifier with Wales, Martin O’Neill has the opportunity to runt he rule over other options in his squad and we’re expecting a much-changed team tonight.
Kick-off in Dublin 4 is at 7.45pm and we’ll have all the build-up between now and then.
Let’s start with the teams.
Brentford’s John Egan and Conor Hourihane of Aston Villa will make their senior debuts tonight, with the Cork natives named in O’Neill’s XI.
IRELAND: Westwood; Christie, Pearce, Egan, Brady (c); Hendrick, Hourihane, McClean, McGeady, Hayes; K Doyle.
Substitutes: Randolph, C Doyle, Keogh, Gleeson, Ward, Meyler, Long, Boyle, Horgan, O’Dowda, O’Kane.
Well, what do you think of the starting XI named by O’Neill?
Egan and Hourihane are rewarded for fine seasons at club level while Preston duo Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan will hope to get their chance off the bench.
Ryan Bailey here to guide you through all the action as it happens with Ben Blake and Paul Fennessy also in position at the Aviva Stadium as we bring you minute-by-minute coverage of this evening’s game.
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Which way do you see tonight’s game going? Can a second-string Ireland record a win or will Iceland prove too strong?
Kick-off is fast approaching, but there’s still time to whet your appetite with some of our pre-match offerings:
Let’s take a closer look at the Iceland team for tonight.
Manager Heimir Hallgrimsson has made seven changes from the XI that beat Kosovo on Friday night.
ICELAND: Kristinsson, Mar Saevarsson, Ingason, R Sigurdsson, A Sigurdsson, Bodvarsson, Skulason, Gunnarsson, Magnusson, Gislason, Finnbogason.
As the teams emerge from the tunnel, a cursory glance around a sparsely-populated Aviva Stadium suggests we’ll be along way short of Friday’s 50,000 sell-out tonight.
President Michael D Higgins is now greeting the players and then we’ll have the anthems.
Before we get underway, we’ll have a minute’s applause in memory of those we lost in the Irish football family over the last year.
Kick off! Here we go, Ireland playing from right to left in this first half.
Running repairs already for debutant John Egan as he suffers a cut just below his left eye. After being patched up by the medics, the Brentford man is back on.
James McClean is playing through the middle alongside Kevin Doyle with Jonny Hayes operating on the left. Other than that, it’s as you would expect from O’Neill’s side with Hendrick and Hourihane the central midfield partnership.
Iceland have started very brightly and are moving the ball around with pace and precision. Their movement is good too and it’s going to be a real test for Ireland’s defence tonight.
The visitors dominating possession so far, with Ireland struggling to keep hold of the ball when they get it. The Aviva Stadium is pretty lifeless at the moment, although it’s not a bad turn out all things considered.
The long throw comes in from this near side and all the green shirts get attracted to the ball, with an Icelandic head winning the flick on. Finnbogasson is the man over at the back post but Hendrick does well to get a flick on it and clear the danger.
Nothing much to report from the opening 15 minutes, although we have just had the evening’s first thunder clap. Tells you all you need to know really.
Not a lot doing. Conor Hourihane has barely had a kick in midfield with the game passing him by.
Booking! John Egan goes into the book for hauling Finnbogasson down on the edge of the area.
GOAL! Ireland 0-1 Iceland (Magnusson)
Oh that’s a lovely strike, as Magnusson whips the free kick up and over the Irish wall and into Westwood’s bottom corner.
That was much better from Ireland, who have suddenly come alive after going behind. McGeady has been bright on the far side but his latest cross is cleared by the first man after good work from Christie.
Hayes has been aggressive in the tackle and has won possession back twice in quick succession for the hosts. Ireland have responded well to going behind.
Hayes wins it back again and releases McClean down this near side. The West Brom man instantly looks for Kevin Doyle, but when the cross comes the striker is marginally offside.
*Thunder clap klaxon*
A largely frustrating opening half an hour for Martin O’Neill with his side too slow in possession. McGeady has caused problems but anytime he’s looked to cross, he only has Kevin Doyle to aim for.
Ireland win the knock down from Westwood’s goal-kick and Doyle draws the foul in a promising position. Brady and McGeady standing over it.
It’s Brady’s left foot, but Iceland have numbers in defence and can get it clear.
A little over 10 minutes until the break.
A pretty dull affair so far as we head towards half time.
Ireland win the corner, Brady delivers but it’s cleared. It comes back to the Irish captain on this near side and he whips in a delightful ball but there are no green shirts there to take advantage.
Half-time! Ireland 0-1 Iceland
Not a lot to shout about in that opening period. A pretty dour half of international football with chances few and far between. Hordur Bjorgvin Magnusson’s 21st minute free kick has given the visitors a deserved lead.
37,241 is tonight’s official attendance.
Back underway at the Aviva.
Surprisingly, no changes at the break for either side.
A little bit more urgency from Ireland as McClean crosses. Again, the delivery isn’t great and Iceland comfortably deal with it.
Lovely ball in from Hayes this time and Magnusson is forced to scramble it behind. Brady’s corner is punched clear by the goalkeeper but Ireland putting a bit more pressure on now.
McClean makes good ground down the left and it appears to be fouled but the referee points for a corner instead. Another Brady set-piece is cleared but he sends in another dangerous ball, only for Iceland to deal with it again.
The visitors are making a change with Holmar Eyjolfsson coming on for Ragnar Sigurdsson.
As a host of Irish subs warm up, Brady trots over to this near corner to take another set-piece. His delivery really is superb but Iceland have dealt with everything really well, with Ingason getting his head on that latest corner.
Iceland have been on the back foot since the restart but the ball falls nicely to Gunnarsson, but his effort is always sailing well over Westwood’s bar.
Hayes has been really bright on the left, bombing up and down the wing. The ball falls for Doyle in the box but his effort is blocked.
Here comes Daryl Horgan! The former Dundalk man gets a big ovation as he replaces Hayes.
O’Neill makes three other changes with Eunan O’Kane, Stephen Gleeson and Andy Boyle — another debutant — coming on for Hourihane, Hendrick and Egan.
McClean is chopped down on the byline and Ingason is booked by the referee. You feel Ireland’s best chance of an equaliser is from a set-piece. Brady tips it to O’Kane, who drives it low into the danger area but, once again, a white shirt is there.
Horgan’s first involvement sees the Preston winger cut inside onto his right foot but his cross is overhit.
Shane Long and Callum O’Dowda are being sent on with McClean and McGeady making way. 18 minutes left for Ireland to find an equaliser.
That’s more like it! Ireland’s best move of the match results in O’Dowda winning ANOTHER corner and, surprise surprise, Brady’s cross is met by an Icelandic head.
Fantastic run by O’Dowda as O’Kane finds him in space. He skipped past one challenge but his left-foot effort from the edge of the area was deflected behind.
To their credit, Iceland have been so well-organised and proved to be incredibly hard to break down. Ingason has been an absolute rock at the heart of the defence and they’ve just soaked up the pressure in this second half.
Ireland applying plenty of pressure in search of this equaliser but time is running out. O’Kane does brilliantly to latch onto a loose ball and get it out wide towards Christie. The fullback wins the corner, which comes to nothing.
Eunan O’Kane has been excellent since coming on. He’s always made himself available and found pockets of space in midfield, while using the ball well when in possession. Really dictating things out there at the moment for the hosts.
Four minutes of added time.
Ireland have been by far the better team in this second half but have hardly tested the goalkeeper. Even in defeat, the performance of some of the fringe players — O’Dowda, Horgan, Hayes and O’Kane — has been encouraging.
Last chance saloon for Ireland. The hosts throwing everything at Iceland but the wall of white shirts stands firm.
Christie’s long throw is flicked on by Boyle but Kristinsson gratefully gathers and that should be that.
Full-time! Ireland 0-1 Iceland
Martin O’Neill’s side slip to their first defeat at the Aviva Stadium since a 2-1 loss to Turkey in May 2014. A disappointing night all round with Ireland once again firing blanks.
Thanks for joining us this evening. We’ll have a full report and all the reaction from the Aviva Stadium on the site shortly.