Republic of Ireland 0 Portugal 0.
CHIEDOZIE Ogbene starred as the Republic of Ireland were held to a scoreless draw by Portugal in their World Cup qualifier at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday night.
Ogbene received a standing ovation when he was substituted in injury time but he couldn’t help Ireland, who now need to beat Luxembourg on Sunday to finish third in Group A, to defeat a Portugal side that saw Pepe sent off late on.
Stephen Kenny named Cork’s John Egan and Ogbene in his starting 11 while fellow Adam Idah and Conor Hourihane would emerge from the substitutes bench, whereas Caoimhín Kelleher and Alan Browne didn’t.
Roared on by a full capacity crowd of 50,737, Ireland started aggressively but the only half-chance they created in that period though was from a set-piece with Shane Duffy’s header almost falling kindly for Matt Doherty inside the box, but Portugal scrambled clear.
They finished the first 45 strongly as well with Callum Robinson sending an ambitious curler from the edge of the box wide of the bottom right corner.
And soon it was again a case of the ball nearly falling Ireland’s way as Duffy’s header caused problems but the ball was hacked away before Hendrick could finish.
The Irish kept the pressure on and moments later Ogbene, who earlier pulled out of a challenge with the onrushing goalkeeper when it looked like he had the pace to take it around him, headed Robinson’s cross wide at the near post.
In between those good spells, the visitors had quietened the home fans by keeping the ball but even with their attacking riches, they failed to truly create a goalscoring opportunity of note.
Their best moment saw Andre Silva released with a long free over the top in the 17th minute but his thunderous drive was tipped wide by Gavin Buzunu before Cristiano Ronaldo saw a scuffed effort blocked by Seamus Coleman.
The Manchester United man hit one of his customary free-kicks into the wall at the beginning of the second half which came against the run of play.
Ireland were on top at that point as they looked to hit the channels and utilise Ogbene’s pace in behind. Danilo, who was booked when fouling the youngster, won’t want to play against him again anytime soon.
The former Cork City attacker was almost gifted a glorious chance after 54 minutes as Joao Palinha was pressed in front of his own goal. Ogbene couldn’t get a shot away though so instead teed up Josh Cullen but his low strike was saved by Rui Patricio.
Ronaldo broke Irish hearts with two late goals from headers in their previous meeting and he nearly repeated the trick with 23 minutes to go but he sent the ball just past the far left post before swerving the ball past the other upright with 11 minutes remaining.
Ireland finished strongly - aided by Pepe’s sending off - but their best chance at a winner came before it and Stevens could only sweep Ogbene’s cross over.
Gavin Bazunu; Seamus Coleman, Shane Duffy, John Egan; Matt Doherty, Jeff Hendrick, Josh Cullen, Jamie McGrath, Enda Stevens; Callum Robinson, Chiedozie Ogbene.
Adam Idah for McGrath (61), Conor Hourihane for Hendrick (78), James McClean for Stevens (78), Will Keane for Ogbene (91).
Rui Patricio; Nelson Semedo, Pepe, Danilo, Diogo Dalot; Bruno Fernandes, Matheus Nunes, João Palhinha; Cristiano Ronaldo, André Silva, Gonçalo Guedes.
João Moutinho for Nunes (56), Rafael Leao for Guedes (56), Renato Sanches for Silva (75), Joao Felix for Fernandes (75), José Fonte for Leao (83).
Jesus Gil Manzano (Spain).