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Republic of Ireland vs Portugal match report

While it wasn’t quite the famous victory that Ireland dreamed of, a goalless draw against Portugal shows the steady improvement that has been made under Stephen Kenny throughout the qualifying campaign. 

Pitchside view from the match. Image by Conor Kenny 

After keeping Ronaldo and Co. quiet for the game’s majority, Portugal’s Pepe’s 82nd minute red card could have easily inspired Ireland to go on and find a late win.  

And it almost did, when Matt Doherty seemed to secure a famous victory with an injury-time strike. Ultimately, it wasn’t to be – after it was ruled out for a foul on Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio by Will Keane. 

It was a very entertaining game from start to finish in Ireland’s first full-capacity home game in almost two years, with the Aviva crowd in top form for the fixture. 

The Aviva stadium back at full capacity. Image by Conor Kenny 

Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo was, of course, a prime target for Ireland’s sea of green and was booed heavily with every touch.  

It was a very temperate outing for CR7 in contrast to September’s game in Faro and he was kept quiet by Ireland’s back three of John Egan, Shane Duffy and captain Seamus Coleman. 

Ireland’s pre-match team huddle. Photo Source: FAI Ireland Twitter. 

It was a bright start for Ireland, with Newcastle midfielder Jeff Hendrick breaking through the lines in the fifth minute to give Ireland an early corner. This lead to a loose ball in the Portugal penalty area which Callum Robinson couldn’t quite capitalise on. 

Seamus Coleman produced a brilliant block in the 16th minute to deny Ronaldo. It was followed shortly by a poor attempt by RB Leipzig’s, Andre Silva, from outside of the box. 

Ireland’s starting XI. Photo Source: FAI Ireland Twitter 

Looking to continue his recent goalscoring form, Callum Robinson made a decent effort from an Ireland counter-attack in the 25th minute. Chiedoze Ogbene was booked in his first competitive home start for Ireland for a foul on Bruno Fernandes. 

Ogbene made a nuisance of himself throughout and saw his near post header sail over the bar just before the interval. 

A 54th minute Josh Cullen strike lacked power in his attempt to beat Rui Patricio. Seamus Coleman was booked a minute later, with the subsequent free kick striking Ireland’s wall. 

Goncalo Guedes and Matheus Nunes were subbed off for Portugal in the 56th minute, being replaced by Rafael Leao and Wolves midfielder Joao Moutinho. Adam Idah replaced Jamie McGrath for Ireland soon after.  

But Moutinho helped stabilise Portugal’s midfield, and it led to a chance for Ronaldo in the 67th minute which was inches wide.  

Ronaldo had another opportunity ten minutes later, his curled effort beat Ireland’s goalkeeper, Gavin Bazunu, and sailed wide after the Irish defence allowed him too much space to let it fly. 

Pepe’s red card then excited the Aviva’s atmosphere, as Ireland tried to push on to grab a winner in the last ten minutes. 

But Portugal weren’t short of chances either. For a split second, it looked as if another chance would arise, but 19-year-old keeper Gavin Bazunu came and collected well. 

Then came Ireland’s moment, as Portugal substituted, Jose Fonte hoisted the ball in the air in Portugal’s penalty area, making it awkward for Rui Patricio. 

It looked as if Conor Hourihane had teed up Matt Doherty to score the winner. However, a free kick was awarded Portugal’s way after Will Keane fouled Patricio. 

Callum Robinson was named man of the match. Image Source: FAI Ireland. 

There wasn’t enough time for another Irish opportunity, but there was for a Portuguese one, and who else but Ronaldo would it fall to? 

Bazunu stood tall though, securing the point for Ireland with Luxembourg up next for Stephen Kenny’s men. 

Irish players applaud after the full-time whistle. Image by Conor Kenny. 

As for Portugal, it’s a winner takes all home game against Serbia in Faro for automatic World Cup qualification. 

Player ratings:  

Republic of Ireland: Gavin Bazunu (8) Seamus Coleman (7) Shane Duffy (8) John Egan (7) Matt Doherty (7) Jeff Hendrick (7) Josh Cullen (8) Enda Stevens (6) Chiedozie Ogbene (8) Callum Robinson (8) Jamie McGrath (6) Subs: Adam Idah (7) James McClean (N/A) Conor Hourihane (N/A) Will Keane (N/A)  

Portugal: Rui Patricio (8) Nelson Semedo (6) Pepe (5) Danilo Pereira (7) Diogo Dalot (7) Joao Palhinha (8) Matheus Nunes (6) Bruno Fernandes (6) Goncalo Guedes (6) Andre Silva (7) Cristiano Ronaldo (6) Subs: Joao Moutinho (7) Rafael Leao (5) Joao Felix (6) Renato Sanches (6) Jose Fonte (N/A)  

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