Evan Ferguson misses penalty as Ireland miss chance of Belgium scalp

Evan Ferguson misses penalty as Ireland miss chance of Belgium scalp

John O’Shea, the interim head coach of the Republic of Ireland, missed out on a significant victory against Belgium as Evan Ferguson failed to score a penalty.

The forward from Brighton, who joined his national team without scoring a goal in 20 games for his club, had his penalty saved by Matz Sels, the goalkeeper of Nottingham Forest. This resulted in a scoreless draw at the windy Aviva Stadium.

Belgium enjoyed the greater share of the possession, but it was Ireland who created the better chances with debutant Sammie Szmodics going close on more than one occasion.

Although O’Shea will continue to lead the team for Tuesday’s match against Switzerland, he may lament missed opportunities. However, he surely cannot be dissatisfied with the organization and effort of his players.

Former manager of Ireland, Stephen Kenny, aimed to have his youthful team play an open and attacking style of football. However, despite their efforts, they were unable to produce successful outcomes, only winning six out of 29 competitive matches during his tenure.

O’Shea did what Kenny’s most recent predecessors had also attempted and as a first requirement, made his side difficult to beat, relying on the physicality of Ferguson and the pace of Chiedozie Ogbene to get them up the field.

Ireland appeared more secure defensively and created multiple chances that could have led to a win against a team ranked fourth in the world by FIFA. However, this team was missing several of its top players.

Soon after kick-off, Blackburn’s forward Szmodics came close to giving them an early lead. This happened in the third minute when Ferguson put pressure on defender Wout Faes, allowing Josh Cullen to pass the ball to him. Then, Szmodics set up Ogbene to make a run for the ball.

Unfortunately, Ogbene was unable to convert his breakaway opportunity, as he shot with his left foot and hit the side-netting despite getting past Sels.

Ireland employed a 5-4-1 formation to limit Belgium’s attacking opportunities, while 19-year-old midfielder Arthur Vermeeren from Atletico Madrid stood out for his passing skills. Despite this, chances were limited for both teams.

O’Shea’s team had an opportunity to go ahead when Vermeeren was deemed to have committed a handball while Dara O’Shea attempted to assist Nathan Collins’ header into the dangerous zone. Referee Rohit Saggi awarded a penalty.

Ferguson took his turn after a long wait, but slipped when he hit the ball and Sels saved his penalty in the 28th minute with his legs.

In the close of the first half, Ogbene took a shot with his right foot that grazed past the goal. Ireland had another chance to score before the half ended, with Ferguson making a high climb to redirect Kelleher’s long clearance. However, Szmodics was unable to capitalize and shot over the crossbar after warding off Castagne.

After the break, Seamus Coleman faced a tougher challenge as Belgium manager brought on Manchester City player Jeremy Doku to replace Leandro Trossard. Within a few moments, it was the home team who nearly scored.

Ferguson once again rose above the opposing defense to connect with a cross from Robbie Brady six yards away, but unfortunately he was unable to keep his header from going over the crossbar.

Kelleher, who was chosen over Gavin Bazunu, had to make two tries at catching a 50th-minute shot from Lois Openda. However, the opposing player Sels was relieved to see Brady’s free-kick go over the crossbar due to the strong wind four minutes later.

In the 67th minute, Szmodics attempted a shot that was stopped by Amadou Onana while Ireland maintained their pressure. However, Kelleher needed to make a strong save to prevent Thomas Meunier’s strike after Dodi Lukebakio, who had substituted in, had a chance down the right and passed the ball back 15 minutes before the end of the game.

Doku attempted a shot with his right foot that just went over the goal, while Openda’s hopeful claims for a penalty were disregarded after colliding with Kelleher. Ultimately, the game ended in a tie.

Source: independent.co.uk