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Dublin: 2°C Tuesday 13 April 2021


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WITH JUST ONE week to go before what will surely be a vital match in the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, Ireland host Uruguay in Dublin this evening.

Having lost out to Mexico in the early hours of Friday morning, Martin O’Neill’s men are back from their short trip to the US to take on the nation ranked 15th in the world at the Aviva Stadium.

The Ireland boss has spoken about using tonight’s fixture to give minutes to players who may be short on match fitness ahead of the clash with Austria a week from today. Kick off is 6pm before so we’re about 40 minutes away

Ireland make eight changes to the side that was beaten 3-1 by Mexico. Goalkeeper Darren Randolph and defenders Shane Duffy and Cyrus Christie remain, and there’s a first start for Burnley defender Kevin Long, who made his debut on Thursday.

It looks like they will revert to a four-man backline after experimenting with three, while Jon Walters is expected to lead the line in attack.

The visitors are missing the injured Luis Suarez of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin. Sebastien Coates, once of Liverpool and Sunderland, starts at the back, as does Atleti’s Jose Gimenez.

Paris Saint-Germain hitman Edison Cavani will be the biggest threat to the Ireland goal.

Ireland: Randolph; Christie, Duffy, K Long, Ward; Whelan, Arter, Hayes, Hendrick, Brady; Walters.


Uruguay: Conde; Pereira, Gimenez, Coates, Caceres; Sanchez, Rios, Vecino, Laxalt; Urretaviscaya, Cavani.

Here come the teams. The stadium is pretty empty at the moment and I’m going to predict an attendance of somewhere around the 20,000 mark.

Kick-off – Cavani plays the ball back from the tip-off spot and we’re away.


Ireland have lined up in a 4-5-1 with Arter and Whelan at the base of the midfield while a trio of Hayes, Hendrick and Brady are supporting Walters. Brady, naturally a left-sided player, has taken up a position on the right with Hayes on the opposing wing.


Ireland have a free-kick 40 yards out from goal and Brady floats the ball in but it’s headed away.


Decent play from Ireland. They work the ball to Ward, who sends a deep cross to the back post. Hendrick contests the aerial ball but Coates heads behind for a corner.

When that set-piece comes in, Uruguayan goalkeeper Conde punches clear.


Walters lays off to Whelan with a neat backheel and the Stoke City midfielder has a pop, but drags it well wide.

That effort came seconds after some risky play at the back from Randolph, who was very nearly closed down by Cavani.


Bad news for Uruguay. Cavani has just walked off the field and he looks to be in some discomfort. That’s the end of his involvement today and they are readying a substitute.

Back on the pitch, Ireland create two good chances with Brady at the heart of both. First, the Burnley man stings the hands of Conde with a strike. Then his dangerous cross is metres away from finding the head of Duffy.


Here’s that Uruguay change… Cavani hasn’t returned and he’s replaced by Cristhian Stuani of Middlesbrough.


The new man gets a shot on goal straight away. Stuani chests down a ball in the box and volleys into the arms of Randolph.


Uruguay create an opening with Laxalt given room to shoot 20 yards out from goal. His effort is too high, however, and sails over.

Flag 27Mins

GOAL! Ireland 1-0 Uruguay (Jonny Walters) 

Ireland go in front, and in some style. Whelan plays the ball into Walters and he gets a bit of luck as Sanchez’s tackle is a half-hearted one.

Space opens up in front of the Stoke man and he blasts the ball past Conde from outside the box. Super finish.


Off the bar! Uruguay go close from a set-piece. A free-kick from Urretaviscaya is put behind by Duffy and when the same player sends in a corner, Caceres heads onto the crossbar.

Flag 38Mins

GOAL! Ireland 1-1 Uruguay (Jose Gimenez) 

The visitors are level. Another free-kick is clipped towards Ireland’s penalty spot and Randolph comes but doesn’t make it. The West Han goalkeeper is caught in no man’s land and Gimenez directs the ball into the empty net.


How did he miss that?! Brady is stretching to connect with a volley at the back post and puts it on a plate for Walters, who somehow hits the bar from three yards out.


Second half – We’ve had a string of substitutions. Rios,  Sanchez and Laxalt all make way for Uruguay with Alvaro Gonzalez, Nahitan Nandez and Alejandro Silva coming on.

For Ireland, Keiren Westwood replaces Randolph in goal while Wes Hoolahan is on for Whelan.

Flag 49Mins

GOAL! Ireland 2-1 Uruguay (Cyrus Christie) 

The Boys in Green have re-established their lead in fortuitous circumstances. Christie goes on a mazy run and sends the ball in with his left foot. The effort strikes the leg of a defender to take it past the Uruguay goalkeeper.


Westwood called into action as Vecino’s goalbound effort is kept out by the Sheffield Wednesday stopper.


A trio of Ireland substitutions – Aiden McGeady, Alex Pearce and Daryl Murphy are getting a run for Hayes, Duffy and Walters.


Uruguay change – Pereira is off for Federico Ricca.


Uruguay have the ball in the back of the net… but it’s ruled offside. Stuani volleys home after a nicely-worked one-two. It won’t count though.

Moments later, Westwood has to keep out a headed attempt from goalscorer Gimenez.


Another routine save from Westwood, who gets his body behind Silva’s tamely-hit strike.


Here comes James McClean… The Derry winger has been introduced with Hendrick heading off.

When the play restarts, Murphy gets the bounce of the ball and scuffs a shot at goal but it’s saved by Conde.

Flag 77Mins

GOAL! Ireland 3-1 Uruguay (James McClean) 

That’s a brilliant finish. Only on the field, McClean races onto a through-ball from Murphy and composes himself before rifling the ball into the bottom corner. The goal earns the biggest cheer of the evening so far.


McClean appears to be in again and just as he’s about to let fly, Gimenez makes a terrific last-ditch tackle. Great recovery from the Atletico Madrid defender.

Flag 92Mins

Full-time: Ireland 3-1 Uruguay

In a game that had a real end-of-season friendly feel about it, Ireland put in a solid performance and run out deserved winners.

Now it’s all about next week and focus turns to the visit of Austria.

James McClean celebrates scoring his sides third goal McClean celebrates his goal. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

About the author:

Ben Blake