Republic of Ireland 0 Luxembourg 1
THE Republic of Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are almost certainly over as they were beaten 1-0 by Luxembourg at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening.
A stunning strike from Gerson Rodrigues in the closing stages was enough to earn the visitors the three points as Ireland lose back-to-back games in Group A while their winless run under Stephen Kenny now stands at 10 matches.
Kenny made three alterations to his side from the midweek loss to Serbia as Jayson Molumby, Aaron Connolly, and Mark Travers dropped out with Jason Knight, James Collins, and goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu taking their place.
Cork’s Alan Browne retained his place in midfield following his goal-scoring display against the Serbians.
The Boys in Green started slowly but they almost took the lead with the first genuine sight on goal in the 19th minute.
Callum Robinson broke free down the left and his dangerous pass across the six-yard box was turned towards goal by the stretching James Collins, but he was denied by a great reaction save from Anthony Moris.
It wasn’t until the 40th minute that they next threatened as a superb pass over the top by Josh Cullen picked out the run of Browne but even though his first touch took him past the keeper, he couldn’t stop it from running out of play.
Luxembourg almost went ahead shortly before the break but Bazunu did brilliantly to retreat and stop Rodrigues’ sensational half volley from 40 plus yards from dropping into his net.
Matt Doherty was forced to withdraw through injury during half-time and he was replaced by Robbie Brady, who moved behind the strikers with Browne going out to right wing-back.
Despite the switch, the Mahon man should’ve put Ireland in front after 55 minutes but he could only send his free header from Brady’s inswinging free-kick wide of the far post from a great position.
They again went close 11 minutes later but Robinson blasted over from an excellent position after good pressing high up the pitch by Jason Knight before Collins sent a clever bicycle kick inches wide moments later.
Just when it looked like they were going to have to settle for a disappointing draw disaster struck in the 85th minute as Gerson Rodrigues drilled a stunning strike from the edge of the box into the bottom left corner to virtually end Ireland’s hopes of reaching the World Cup already.
G Bazunu; S Coleman, D O’Shea, C Clark; M Doherty, J Cullen, J Knight, E Stevens; A Browne; C Robinson, J Collins.
R Brady for Doherty (h-t); J McClean for Clark (61); S Long for Robinson (73); T Parrott for Collins and J Molumby for Cullen (both 88).
A Moris; M Martins, M Chanot, E Mahmutovic, L Jans; C Martins; V Thill, O Thill, G Rodrigues, L Barreiro; D Sinani.
M Deville for V Thill (79); L Gerson for Sinani (91).
F Jovic (Croatia).