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Luxembourg 0-3 Republic of Ireland

Qualification for the 2022 World Cup has long been out of Ireland’s reach, but the campaign comes to an official end in Luxembourg this evening.

Revenge might well be too strong a word but there’s no doubt that the ghost of the March fixture in Dublin looms large over tonight’s game.

That was unquestionably the low point of the Stephen Kenny era, but there are few who would argue that the side has shown clear signs of progress since.

Whether it’s sufficient for the FAI to offer Kenny a contract extension — well, that remains to be seen.

The one thing that’s for sure is that victory in Luxembourg this evening would certainly do his cause no harm.

Kick off is at 7.45pm.

TEAM NEWS: There are two changes to the team which drew with Portugal on Thursday evening. James McClean and Adam Idah both start with Enda Stevens and Jamie McGrath dropping to the bench.

Republic of Ireland: Bazunu, Doherty, Coleman, Duffy, Egan, McClean, Cullen, Hendrick, Robinson, Ogbene, Idah.

TEAM NEWS: Two high profile absentees for Luxembourg. Captain Dirk Carlson is suspended while first-choice goalkeeper Anthony Moris is ruled out following a positive Covid test.

Luxembourg: Schon, Jans, Chanot, Martins Pereira, Pinto, Thill, Selimovic, Barreiro, Sinani, Rodrigues, Borges Sanches.

There’s little more than pride at stake this evening but the associated maths is simple: win and Ireland finish third in Group A; anything else and Luxembourg will finish third and Ireland will be fourth.

KICK OFF: After players from both sides take a knee, we’re under way in Luxembourg. Ireland are playing in their new away strip, a Macedonia-era orange.

3 mins – Luxembourg get an early bit of joy in behind James McClean on the left hand side of the Irish defence and both Egan and Duffy need to get involved to head the danger clear.

4 mins – Ireland are under pressure again as the ball comes straight back at them. Gerson Rodrigues — the goalscorer in Dublin — tries to jink a away through the Irish defenders in the box but the ball is taken off his toe before he can do any damage.

6 mins – Big shouts from the home players and crowd for a potential handball against Shane Duffy, but the referee waves play on.

6 mins – As Ireland clear, Ogbene gets a run on Selimovic who puts his arm across him a seat belt tackles and brings him down. It’s a yellow card for the Luxembourg midfielder.

8 mins – Hendrick tries to cushion a header down to Idah in the box but Schon is quick off his line to beat the striker to the ball.

9 mins – Half-chance for Ireland and it brings the first real save of the evening from Schon. Ogbene made a good run down the right and although his cutback wasn’t precise, clipping the heels of a retreating defender, it bobbled to Robinson at the edge of the box and he hit the target. Schon dives to his left to push it away.

12 mins – Gerson Rodrigues runs in behind Duffy to go after a Route One ball, and Duffy clips him on the way through. It’s a clear free kick — and thankfully from an Irish perspective, no further sanction for Duffy.

13 mins – Sinani has a go from the free kick from the guts of 25 yards but it’s a poor strike and it hits the wall.

14 mins – Good passage of play from Ireland as they get a couple of crosses into the box but Luxembourg are equal to it on both occasions.

15 mins – Now it’s Ireland’s turn for a big penalty appeal as Idah goes to ground in the box after what looks like a nudge in the back. The Hungarian referee waves play on and VAR chooses not to intervene.

16 mins – Ogbene stretches the Luxembourg defence again, and as the cavalry arrives into the box in support, his pull back hits the first man and goes behind for a corner.

17 mins – It’s Ogbene again, and this time he burns Chanot down the left with his pace and drives into the box — and again, Luxembourg turn it behind for a corner as he tries to pick out an Irish jersey in the middle.

19 mins – Schon duffs a clearance straight to Robinson on the edge of the box. He is bundled to the ground by Martins Pereira, who is booked for the foul. It’s a very central position for the Irish free with Robinson and Egan standing over it…

20 mins – Robinson goes low but it hits Gerson Rodrigues and goes behind for another Irish corner.

22 mins – Super save from Bazunu! Thill’s speculative shot took a deflection off Josh Cullen as he came out to close him down, and Bazunu had to be alert and at full stretch to touch it around the post. 

31 mins – Luxembourg are pressing Ireland high up the pitch and enjoying a good few minutes as a result. Martins clips the ball away from Doherty, which looks to be a clear foul. The referee waves play on but Luxembourg can’t take advantage.

32 mins – Half-chance for Idah as he flicks a heel in the direction of a James McClean cross. It comes off a defender and goes behind for a corner.

36 mins – Doherty tries to pick out the run of Robinson in behind with a long, raking pass but Chanot just about manages to cut it out. Luxembourg counter immediately — it’s quite end-to-end at the minute, even if not every attack is ending with a shot on target.

38 mins – Robinson’s cross is only half-cleared to the edge of the box, where McClean is waiting. He swipes at it with his right foot and it spins away high and wide.

39 mins – Chance for Ireland! Their best of this first half, for sure. Robinson’s shot is blocked but Martins makes a hames of the clearance and plays it straight to Ogbene. He fires a shot through the crowd and Schon needs to get his body behind it to make a good save, pushing it over the bar.

43 mins – Gerson Rodrigues hooks the ball towards goal but it’s straight into Bazunu’s hands.

44 mins – Ogbene wins another Irish corner down the right — their sixth of the evening so far — this one off Pinto.

45 mins — SAVE! Good save by Schon to deny Egan. He got up highest to meet Cullen’s corner and floated it towards the far post. If there had been a bit more power behind it, the goalkeeper might have struggled, but he’s able to scramble across to get it away.

45+1 mins – Into the first of two added minutes and this time it’s Doherty who gets into the box and tries to pull the ball back into a central position, only for Luxembourg to clear again.

Ireland have been the better side in the first half, without finding a breakthrough, or really creating the quality of chance that they would have liked to. We’ve finally seen a replay of the Adam Idah penalty shout and — green-tinted glasses aside — it certainly looks a very cut and dried decision that the officials, and VAR, have missed.

SECOND HALF: No changes for either side as we get back underway.

46 mins – The ball breaks to McClean at the back post but his touch is heavy and that’s enough to give Jans an opportunity to nip in and nick it away.

47 mins – Josh Cullen picks up a yellow card and he will miss Ireland’s next competitive game.

48 mins – Oh, what a chance! Adam Idah goes for the spectacular and puts it wide, but Callum Robinson was arriving behind him and looked to be in a much better position. What might have been…

49 mins — HUGE LET OFF FOR IRELAND! Duffy’s clearance is a poor one and it’s quickly played back in to the feet of Gerson Rodrigues. He has the goal at his mercy, and Bazunu out of position, and all he has to do is lift it over the keeper. Instead, he tries to curl it into the far corner and Bazunu is equal to it, making a diving save.

50 mins – HENDRICK! Another good chance as he breaks onto the ball in the box but it just won’t sit down for him and he flashes it right and wide. 

53 mins – Matt Doherty tries his luck from all of 25 yards out but it’s just wide of the left post.

54 mins — GOAL FOR LUXEMBOURG… RULED OUT

Sinani has the ball in the back of the net and the Stade de Luxembourg erupts but the referee — who had allowed play to continue after what seemed to be a push on Shane Duffy — finally brings it back for the foul having initially appearing to wave play on.

Ireland breathe.

56 mins – Shane Duffy wins a header over Deville, but he led with his arm in doing so, and so it’s a Luxembourg free and a booking for Duffy.

57 mins – Luxembourg have definitely had the better of the first 10 or 12 minutes of this second half. Ireland are struggling to impose themselves at the minute, and Jason Knight is out warming up.

60 mins – Sinani has another half-chance for Luxembourg which is just off target, but all of the real action is happening in front of Gavin Bazunu’s goal at the moment.

62 mins — Ireland substitution: Jason Knight is on to replace Adam Idah.

63 mins – McClean gets his legs caught up in Sinani’s as he tries to get down the left. It’s an Irish free, but Cullen’s cross is headed away by the first man.

64 mins – Brilliant, teasing cross from McClean that dares any one of the Irish players in the box to run on to it. It curls towards the back post and Schon eventually dives to tip it behind for a corner.

66 mins – Knight cuts in off the left and makes a beeline for the box, but Sinani clips him just on the edge, and it will be an Irish free and a chance for a good delivery.

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GOAL FOR IRELAND! Luxembourg 0-1 Republic of Ireland (Duffy, 67′)

Ireland lead — and it’s a Shane Duffy header from a set piece that breaks the deadlock!

Cullen’s cross from the left is bang on the money, Schon doesn’t take control of the situation in his goalmouth and misses it entirely, and Duffy bundles it over the line.

69 mins – There’s a VAR check now for something or other, but after a brief delay, the goal stands. Ireland lead!

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GOAL FOR IRELAND! Luxembourg 0-2 Republic of Ireland (Ogbene 75′)

It’s two! And after being under the cosh for a large part of this second half, Ireland are now firmly in command and on the way to three points.

It’s a lovely team move with 14 passes before Chiedozie Ogbene lifts it over Jans’ desperation tackle to score.

Hendrick plays a lovely reverse pass back inside to Knight, who times his run perfectly to beat the offside trap. He backheels it into the path of Ogbene, and with Schon out of position, he clips it over the sliding defender Jans to score.

77 mins – Luxembourg make a mess of their defending again and Robinson really should make it three, but instead of scooping it over an out-of-position Schon, he just scoops it into his hands.

79 mins – This game isn’t over yet and John Egan is needed to make an important intervention at the near post to turn the ball behind for a corner. He looks to have hurt himself in doing so, but he’ll try to run it off.

82 mins — Ireland substitution: Chiedozie Ogbene gets a wonderful reception from the travelling fans as he’s replaced by Alan Browne.

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GOAL FOR IRELAND! Luxembourg 0-3 Republic of Ireland (Robinson 88′)

And that is very definitely that! Ireland cut Luxembourg apart for their third, and it’s beautifully clinical.

As Ireland counter, Jason Knight drifts into oceans of space towards the back post, and James McClean picks him out with a precision cross.

Knight cushions the ball back across the face of goal with the inside of his boot, and it’s on a plate for Callum Robinson to tap it into the net.

The Irish fans in the Stade de Luxembourg are having a party now!

89 mins – How about the impact that Jason Knight has had since coming on? Won the free kick for the first goal, and then two assists for the second and the third. He has been so impressive.

90 mins — Ireland substitutions: Omobamidele, Hourihane and Parrott are on; Robinson, Doherty and Cullen are off.

90+1 mins – There’ll be two additional minutes as “There’s only one Stephen Kenny” rings out around the ground.

It wasn’t a perfect performance by any stretch of the imagination — and Ireland definitely rode their luck in parts when Luxembourg were on top at 0-0 — but when all’s said and done, this performance must be considered further evidence that this Irish side is progressing in the right direction under Stephen Kenny.

Tonight’s win sees Ireland finish third in Group A; Chiedozie Ogbene is named Player of the Match; and it’s also a fourth straight clean sheet for Gavin Bazunu and the Irish defence.

That’s all from me for this evening but stay with us over the rest of the evening for Gavin Cooney’s match report and reaction from Luxembourg, Paul Fennessy’s player ratings, and much more.

Thanks for reading.

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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