Hello everyone, Freddie Humphry-Wakefield here bringing you live coverage from tonight’s Group A World Cup qualifier between the Republic of Ireland and Portugal at The Aviva Stadium in Dublin. I hope you enjoy the coverage, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Let’s get straight into the news for both sides ahead of this fixture.
Norwich defender Andrew Omobamidele has been ruled out of tonight’s match squad due to an Achilles injury, and Ireland boss Stephen Kenny hasn’t taken any chances on the 19-year-old making it any worse. Alongside this, Cardiff City striker James Collins has also been ruled out through injury, seeing Bristol City’s Callum O’Dowda being brought in by Stephen Kenny. Jayson Molumby, on loan at West Brom from Brighton, is also out with a hamstring injury.
Ahead of this fixture, Ireland sit fourth in Group A with five points from six games. In their last four qualifying matches, Ireland have only got one win, a 3-0 away victory against Azerbaijan, which was their last qualifier. In these matches, they have scored six goals and conceded four. However, regardless of the result tonight, Ireland cannot mathematically qualify for the World Cup in Qatar next year.
Now onto Portugal. Bernando Silva has pulled out of the matchday squad due to a muscle injury sustained earlier today before the game, and Joao Mario is out with a back injury.
Portugal sit second in Group A with a game in hand on group leaders Serbia, with 16 points from six games. They’re only one point behind the group leaders and automatic qualification for the World Cup. Portugal also haven’t lost in these fixtures (five wins and one draw), have scored 16 goals and have conceded just four times. In their last three qualifiers, Portugal have three wins, 10 goals, and have only conceded once, which was against Ireland in their last meeting which ended 2-1. Unsuprisingly, Cristiano Ronaldo scored two late goals to salvage all three points.
Speaking of Ronaldo, he has six goals in World Cup Qualifying – the fourth most goals of any European player, only behind Memphis Depay of Netherlands, who has nine, Eran Zahavi of Israel, who has eight, and Aleksandar Mitrovic of Serbia, who has seven.
Portugal could also see three players potentially miss the next qualifying game against Serbia, as Manchester City’s Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias, along with Liverpool’s Diogo Jota are at risk of suspension if they receive a yellow card tonight. Quite a few hot heads in this Portugal side.
Here’s a look at tonight’s team news:
The teams are now walking out, and the national anthems are being played. We’re minutes away from kick-off here at The Aviva Stadium!
MIN 1 – Jesus Gil Manzano blows his whistle, Portugal kick-off, and we’re underway at The Aviva!
MIN 5 – Matt Doherty looks to play in Jeff Hendrick with a superb through ball, but it’s intercepted and cleared away for a corner by Pepe. That’s got the noise levels rising.
MIN 8 – Great footwork by Ronaldo. He breezes past Coleman, but the Ireland captain gets back to make the tackle at the expense of a Portugal corner, which Ireland get clear.
MIN 12 – Now Doherty provides the fancy footwork. He knocks it past Diogo Dalot, but Joao Palhinha makes the block, with his clearance rebounding back off Doherty for a goal kick.
MIN 13 – First chance of the game for Portugal. Andre Silva is denied at the near post from a tight angle by Gavin Bazunu, who was taking no chances and pushes it out for a corner.
MIN 18 – Ronaldo has his first shot on goal, but Coleman denies him with a fantastic block to stop the best international goalscorer of all time.
MIN 19 – Mix-up at the back for Portugal. Goalkeeper, and former Wolves man Rui Patricio sprints about 35 yards from his own goal to chase down the ball, and just manages to get there ahead of Chiedozie Ogbene.
MIN 26 – Close from Callum Robinson! Ireland look to catch Portugal on the counter, and Robinson tries to curl his right footed shot into the bottom corner, but Patricio denies him at full stretch. Ireland’s first chance of the game, and arguably the best overall.
MIN 31 – Dangerous cross by Dalot from the left hand side, but it just escapes his Manchester United teammate Ronaldo, resulting in a Ireland goalkick.
MIN 34 – Robinson lets fly from roughly 25 yards, but his wayward shot goes well wide of the goal. No trouble at all for Patricio. I think that one’s landed in The Irish Sea.
MIN 44 – Close for Ireland again! Robinson curls in a delightful cross into the area, Ogbene meets it with his head at a tight angle, but it goes over the crossbar.
MIN 45 – There will be two minutes of added time for the first half.
HALF-TIME – REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 0-0 PORTUGAL
Quite an interesting first-half here at The Aviva Stadium. Portugal certainly haven’t looked the ruthless side they are capable of being during this game, but have dominated possession for the majority of the half. Ireland aren’t backing down, however, and despite not being able to qualify for the World Cup next year, they look keen to go and win this match.
Will we see either side break the deadlock in the second-half? It’s a big 45 minutes coming up here at The Aviva Stadium for these two sides!
MIN 45 – Ireland get us back underway here at The Aviva Stadium.
MIN 46 – Positive start by Ireland. Ogbene darts through the centre, but is brought down by Palhinha. The resulting free-kick is cleared.
MIN 54 – First chance of the half for Ireland. Nunes gives the ball away on the edge of the box, it falls to Josh Cullen, but the man who’s never scored for his country is denied by Patricio.
MIN 56 – Fernando Santos makes a double change for Portugal. Rafael Leão comes on for Goncalo Guedes, and Matheus Nunes makes way for Joao Moutinho.
MIN 59 – Doherty crosses the ball in from the right following a quick counter-attack, but it’s comfortably caught by Patricio.
MIN 61 – Stephen Kenny makes his frist change for Ireland, Jamie McGrath makes way for Norwich striker Adam Idah.
MIN 68 – Best chance of the game so far! Fantastic cross by Andre Silva, which finds the head of Ronaldo, but his header is agonisingly wide of the post. Portugal should be 1-0 up.
MIN 69 – Someone has just ran on to the pitch aiming for Ronaldo, but the intruder is quickly grabbed by security before getting anywhere near the Manchester United man.
MIN 72 – Pepe has been booked for intentionally breaking up the Ireland counter-attack. Standard procedure.
MIN 74 – Another double change for Portugal. Andre Silva comes off for Joao Felix. Bruno Fernandes, who I completely forgot was playing, goes off for Renato Sanches.
MIN 78 – Double substitution for Ireland. James McLean comes on for Enda Stevens. Conor Hourihane replaces Jeff Hendrick in midfield.
MIN 81 – PEPE IS OFF! IT’S A SECOND YELLOW! Now then, things just got very interesting. Pepe outstretches his arm and elbows Robinson in the face, and his special occasion is ruined. Portugal down to 10 and Ireland have a real chance to go and win this.
MIN 83 – Portugal now make a defensive substitution, and their last one, seeing earlier substitute Rafael Leao go off for Jose Fonte.
MIN 88 – If Ireland do go and win this game, it will be their first home win in a competitive fixture since June 2019 when they beat Gibraltar 2-0 in a Euro 2020 qualifier. There’s another international tournament they failed to qualify for.
MIN 90 – There will be five additional minutes. Can Ireland nick a winner? Or will 10-man Portugal make it four wins in a row in World Cup Qualifying?
MIN 90+1 – Substitution for Ireland. Ogbene makes way for a debutant in the 28-year-old Wigan Athletic sriker Will Keane.
MIN 90+4 – GOAL DISALLOWED! Will Keane blocks off Patricio, which results in a foul, Matt Doherty puts the ball in the net but it won’t stand.
MIN 90+5 – Ronaldo almost wins it! He skips past Doherty, and fires his shot low into the ground, and Bazunu makes the save.
FULL-TIME – REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 0-0 PORTUGAL
There we have it! The points are shared at The Aviva Stadium between Ireland and Portugal in Group A.
Portugal move top of Group A by goal difference, with 17 points from seven games and their next game against Serbia on Sunday will decide who gets automatic qualification for the 2022 World Cup. They also remain undefeated, now with five wins and two draws, the exact same record as Serbia.
Ireland will be more than happy with a point and a clean sheet. They remain fourth in Group A, now with six points from seven games. They now will be looking for all three points in their final qualifying game, away to Luxembourg on Sunday night.
I’ve been Freddie Humphry-Wakefield, and I’ll see you all next time!