Cork duo Ogbene and Browne grab the goals in Ireland draw with Belgium

Leesiders to the fore at the Aviva Stadium in friendly to mark FAI centenary
Cork duo Ogbene and Browne grab the goals in Ireland draw with Belgium

26 March 2022; Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, left, and Chiedozie Ogbene of Republic of Ireland after the international friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Belgium at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Ireland 2 Belgium 2

CORK duo Chiedozie Ogbene and Alan Browne made sure that the FAI’s centenary was an anniversary to remember as they both scored in the draw with Belgium at the Aviva Stadium.

The friendly, which was organised to celebrate the 100th birthday of FAI, saw the Boys in Green come behind twice against the number one ranked team in world football.

While two of Cork’s finest grabbed the headlines, they were just two of five players from the Rebel County who were involved in this fixture. Caoimhín Kelleher and John Egan also started, while Conor Hourihane was on the bench.

Stephen Kenny made just two changes to the team that beat Luxembourg 3-0 in November 2021. Kelleher replaced Gavin Bazunu, who withdrew from the squad over illness, and Jason Knight was in for Adam Idah.

After a quite opening, which saw both teams battling for possession in the centre of the pitch, Belgian scored in the 12fth minute through Michy Batshuayi. He collected a ball from Hans Vanaken and beat Seamus Coleman before firing into the far side of goal.

The forward plagued Ireland in the opening half and he should have made it 2-0 after he got a pass from Thorgan Hazard just outside the area but he hit the side netting.

Ireland had to wait until the half-hour mark to have a good spell inside the Belgian half. This ended with a cross from Callum Robinson getting cleared by Youri Tielemans. The ball ended up falling to Ogbene, who controlled it before bicycle-kicking it in.

Chiedozie Ogbene of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's first goal at the Aviva Stadium. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Chiedozie Ogbene of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's first goal at the Aviva Stadium. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

This was the forward’s third goal for Ireland and it came his sixth appearance for the Boys in Green. It was a moment made sweeter by how the first half finished. Stephen Kenny’s side dominated the next 10 minutes and they pinned Belgium into their own half.

Despite good crosses from James McClean and an inch-perfect free-kick from Josh Cullen, Ireland couldn’t get into a good position and they went in at the break level with the Belgians.

The momentum continued after half-time and with just a minute played in the second half, Ireland had a ball taken off the line. This followed a good passage of play beginning with Seamus Coleman stealing the ball from the Belgians in midfield. This led to Callum Robinson trying to shoot before McClean fired at the target and Jason Denayer blocked.

Seconds after this, Jeff Hendrick split the Belgian defence with a through ball and it fell to Knight. He ran into the area but had no room to shoot, so he put this out for a corner and this came to nothing.

Ireland’s good run was undone in the 58th minute when Youri Tielemans found Batshuayi with a long-ball. The unmarked striker inside the area fired and Shane Duffy blocked this, sending the ball out for a corner. When that went in, Arthur Theate jumped the highest and he headed in, giving Belgium a 2-1 lead.

Callum Robinson tried to instantly respond for Ireland after the goal, but his effort was easily saved by Simon Mignolet. Hendrick was the next player to try and get the leveller, but his powerful shot from outside the box went well wide.

Stephen Kenny brought on Alan Browne and Will Keane with 15 minutes remaining. The striker had an immediate impact as he got the ball inside the box and was fouled by Dedryck Boyata. Ireland shouted for a penalty but referee Nicolas Walsh signalled for a corner and when the ball went in, Mignolet caught it comfortably.

The 85th-minute equaliser was the product of Ogbene’s speed, as he stormed forward to keep a long ball from Doherty in play. As soon as he had it under control, he crossed into the box and Browne leaped into the air before heading in.

Ireland's Alan Browne scores the second goal. Pcture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Ireland's Alan Browne scores the second goal. Pcture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Ireland had an opportunity to win late on, but a free-out was given over a foul on the Belgian goalkeeper. Just before the ball was kicked out, Ogbene was named Man of the Match for his goal and assist.

Next up for Ireland now is a friendly on Tuesday evening with Lithuania at the Aviva Stadium.

IRELAND: Caoimhín Kelleher; Seamus Coleman, Shane Duffy, Josh Cullen, Callum Robinson, Matt Doherty, James McClean, Jeff Hendrick, Jason Knight, Chiedozie Ogbene.

Subs: Alan Browne for Jeff Hendrick 75, Will Keane for Jason Knight 75, Ryan Manning for James McClean 80, Troy Parrot for Callum Robinson 90.

BELGIUM: Simon Mignolet, Jason Denayer, Dedryck Boyata, Arthur Theate, Leander Dendoncker, Hans Vanaken, Youri Tielemans, Thorgan Hazard, Charles De Ketelaere, Alexis Saelemaekers , Michy Batshuayi.

Subs: Thomas Foket for Alexis Saelemaekers 45, Orel Mangala for Arthur Theate 75, Adnan Januzaj 75. 

Referee: Nicolas Walsh

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