AFTER beating Scotland 3-0 on Saturday afternoon, Stephen Kenny’s Irish team are in Poland to take on Ukraine in Łódź.
Ireland will go to Eastern Europe on the back of their first win in the UEFA Nations League.
After opening their campaign with defeats to Armenia and Ukraine, Ireland blew Scotland away at a packed Aviva Stadium.
Their domination was rewarded in the 20th minute when Shane Duffy knocked down a James McClean corner. The chance fell to Alan Browne and the midfielder’s shin nudged the ball in.
For the second goal, Michael Obafemi danced into space and chipped the ball into the area. Troy Parrott sprinted into the area and headed in.
Obafemi got Ireland’s third and brought the stadium to its feet. The forward took the ball down and steadied himself, in front of the box, before firing into the top-right corner.
It would have been 4-0 if not for VAR saying that a Scott Hogan header did not cross the line.
This is the first time that the country has scored three goals in a competitive international since a 7-0 victory over Gibraltar in October 2014.
Goal scorer Browne believes that the win over Scotland could kickstart Ireland’s promotion campaign.
“It doesn’t make up for the previous two results, because we really let ourselves down,” he said.
“I think we were playing well going into this and, as I said, couldn’t get that first goal. It doesn’t make up for it, but it puts us back in contention [in the group] and we need to make sure it’s not a one-off and really take advantage of the points at stake.”
Despite the win, the midfielder isn’t satisfied: “I didn’t think the performance was fantastic. I could have done better. But I’ve managed to keep one of the best left full-backs in the world relatively quiet, so it was an alright performance.”
One thing is certain: Browne has a knack for scoring important goals for Ireland. “I just tried to sniff around in the box and, thankfully, it fell nicely to me,” the midfielder said.
“It found its way to the back of the net. I didn’t know too much about it, but we managed to create some openings for us from there. In the previous two games, we just lacked that first goal. We played well at times, but we’ve been punished because we haven’t taken our chances. Once we got the first goal tonight, it just calmed the nerves a bit and we really dominated the game from thereon in.”
Ireland will now fly to Eastern Europe hoping to avenge their 1-0 defeat to Ukraine earlier this month.
Kenny’s side started that game well and forced a number of half-chances, which the Ukrainians easily dealt with.
At the start of the second half, an in-swinging free-kick from Viktor Tsygankov beat everyone inside the area and it fell in.
Ireland had no response and the Ukrainians won comfortably. Their next game was against Armenia in Poland and Ukraine won 3-0.
Three goals in the final half hour sealed the win, with Ruslan Malinovskyi knocking in the first.
Oleksandr Karavaev got the second and Vitaliy Mykolenko, who capitalised on an error from the Armenian defence, scored the third.
They will face an Irish team that has had just two away defeats in the last 12 months. Ever since Ireland beat Andorra and drew with Hungary on the road in June 2021, the team has lost just two away games.
This run, which has seen victories over Azerbaijan and Luxembourg, has produced 10 goals.