2022 World Cup Qualifier Report: Republic of Ireland 0 - 1 Luxembourg

by Macdara Ferris

Macdara Ferris reports from the Aviva Stadium

Having had some delight in scoring two goals during the week in defeat, the Republic of Ireland couldn’t even manage a goal as they went down to a 1-0 loss to Luxembourg at the Aviva Stadium.

The scoreless story returned for Stephen Kenny on Saturday night and they were made pay as Gerson Rodigues rifled home a later winner for the visitors to leave the Boys in Green with a massive task if they are to make next year’s World Cup.

After ten matches of the Kenny tenure, the Republic of Ireland have yet to claim a victory, and five draws and five defeats was not what anyone hoped for the Kenny era.

While Kenny went with the same formation as the 3-2 defeat in Serbia, he made a big call in bringing in Gavin Bazunu into his starting XI for his international debut.

The 19-year-old ‘keeper replaced Mark Travers following his hesitant display in Belgrade and it certainly looked like a good call.

The Rochdale loanee from Man City looked comfortable with the ball at his feet, when he came to collect with his hands and when he vocally marshalled the back three in front of him.

Mark Travers had lost his place in the team on the back of mainly being caught off his line for Serbia’s second goal last Wednesday.

When Gerson Rodrigues spotted Bazunu off his line three minutes from the break and drilled the ball goalwards, Bazunu didn’t panic.

While backpeddling over his own line had the presence of mind to softly palm the ball back out in front of him so he could regather the ball.

By then Ireland should have been a goal ahead, only for the ‘keeper at the other end to keep the game scoreless.

The one-dimensional James Collins’ latched on to Ireland’s best move of the half as he met Callum Robinson’s low cross from the left  on the edge of the six-yard box only for Anthony Moris to save with his feet.

The Boys in Green had started the game well with much of the play being directed through Alan Browne. However, they drifted out of the game as the visitors came more into the match without really troubling Kenny’s defence.

Ciaran Clark was twice called into action, first heading over his own goal before blocking Rodrigues effort, with Enda Stevens doing similar to Marvin Martins shot.

Five minutes from the break, Browne got a sight of goal but took the ball too wide before he could either shoot or pull the ball back to the willing Robinson with the opening period ending scoreless.

With Bazunu off his line defending a free kick wide on the left just after the break, Oliver Thill took a cheeky shot that had the ‘keeper scrambling back but he just about had his angles covered again as the ball hit the side net.

When James Collins was double teamed on 55 minutes, half-time substitute Robbie Brady found Browne with the resulting free kick.

Having scored with a more difficult header on Wednesday, the Corkman will be disappointed he couldn’t find the target this time.

Vincent Trill drilled the ball Bazunu’s way forcing the ‘keeper to save with his feet as the midfielder barrelled through the Ireland defence and into the box just after the hour mark.

Jason Knight’s industry won the ball back to allow Robinson shoot, but the West Brom man couldn’t keep it on target.

A decent multi-player passing move almost resulted in the opener for the home side with Brady getting the ball into the box.

Collins has the look of an old school centre forward but his overhead kick on 70 minutes that hit the side netting belied that stereotype.

There was a shout for an Ireland penalty but the second-half display was all very sloppy with the Luxembourg side happy enough to sit off the Ireland team who lacked the creativity to break through their defence.

Then, with five minutes remaining, the visitors broke and Rodrigues had brought his shooting boots with him. He let fly from 30 yards and he found the corner of the net with Bazunu beaten by inches.

You would suspect had there been a crowd in the stadium, the goal would have been greated by a chorus of boos.

Ireland did at least battle right to the final whistle but it was all too little too late.

Qatar seems so very far away – the World Cup that is – and Ireland will play the 2022 World Cup hosts in a friendly in Hungary next week.

They will hope to score in that game but what they would have done to get a scrappy equaliser in this encounter at the soulless empty Aviva Stadium.

Republic of Ireland: Gavin Bazunu; Séamus Coleman (c), Ciaran Clark, Dara O'Shea; Matt Doherty (Robbie Brady 46), Joshua Cullen (Jayson Molumby 87), Alan Browne, Jason Knight, Enda Stevens (James McClean 60); James Collins (Troy Parrott 87), Callum Robinson.

Subs not used: Jeff Hendrick, Shane Duffy, Cyrus Christie, Daryl Horgan, Darragh Lenihan, Shane Long, Kieran O'Hara, Mark Travers. 

Booked: Enda Stevens (52), Joshua Cullen (80). 

Luxembourg: Anthony Moris; Enes Mahmutovic, Laurent Jans (c), Maxime Chanot; Marvin Martins, Christopher Martins, Leandro Barreiro, Vincent Thill, Olivier Thill; Gerson Rodrigues, Danel Sinani.

Subs not used: Lars Gerson , Lucas Fox, Eldin Dzogovic, Maurice Deville, Florian Bohnert, Edvin Muratovic, Mica Pinto, Timothé Rupil, Ralph Schon, Aldin Skenderovic, Sebastien Thill. 

Booked: Olivier Thill (12) Danel Sinani (52). 

Referee: Fran Jovic (Croatia)

Attendance: 0

ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Gavin Bazunu (Shamrock Rovers)