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Five talking points from Ireland’s big win away to Luxembourg as the Kenny era takes flight

Ireland v Luxembourg

A superb win, despite a slow start.

Ireland rounded off their 2022 World Cup qualifying with a deserved 3-0 win on the road away to Luxembourg on Sunday evening, despite an early scare.

The Boys in Green had to withstand a barrage of pressure from the hosts at times, but the introduction of substitute Jason Knight changed the game late on.

Knight was involved in all three goals for Ireland – with goals from Shane Duffy, Chiedozie Ogbene and Callum Robinson securing a fine win.

Granted, there are probably still areas of c0ncern, but this was an excellent win all things considered.

Here are five talking points from a positive night in Luxembourg.

The Luxembourg hoodoo has been banished.

In March, Irish football was on the cusp of an existential crisis following the defeat at home to Luxembourg, and who knows, it may have been justified to an extent.

But since then, the Boys in Green have lost just once, and are now playing with a swagger few could have predicted a few months ago.

And in truth, there were always going to be a lot of focus on Luxembourg away – but to pass the test with flying colours is big, and underlines the improvement in this Irish team.

Granted, there is a long way to go but this is a really positive sign, and also shows how patience can be a virtue.

Gavin Bazunu.

It is quite clear that Gavin Bazunu is an exceptional talent, and on a nervy night for the Boys in Green, he came to the fore yet again.

Making his seventh competitive appearance for Ireland – a joint record for a teenager along with Robbie Keane and Ian Harte – the Manchester City loanee was sprung into action to deny Olivier Thill.

Thill’s long-range effort on goal almost spun its way into the net with the aid of a deflection, but Bazunu was on hand to claw the ball away from danger.

While also showing his class in a goalkeeping sense, the former Shamrock Rovers star once again showed his composure with his feet. The future is very bright for the former Shamrock Rovers man.

Chiedozie Ogbene.

For a large chunk of the game, Chiedozie Ogbene was Ireland’s brightest spark with his pace and power causing no end of trouble for the hosts defence.

It was a night where chances were few and far between – but it was also night where Luxembourg did their level-best to gift Ireland as many chances as they could.

The former Cork City winger made the most of out of some scrappy play throughout the game, although his early second-half display was not as effective as his start to the game.

But he did grab his goal, a deserved one, as he slotted home into the back of the net after an excellent Jason Knight assist via the genius of Jeff Hendrick.

Ireland Luxembourg talking points

The Jason Knight effect.

Arguably one of the unluckiest members of Kenny’s Ireland squad in recent months with injury, Jason Knight made his impact when it mattered most coming off the bench.

Moments after coming on, Knight won Ireland their free-kick that saw Shane Duffy bundle his header home into the Luxembourg net.

His impact was not only that, however, as his vision ended the game as a contest with just over ten minutes remaining, cutting the ball back superbly to Ogbene who made no mistake whatsoever.

And his late impact was rounded off with another sublime assist, this time to Callum Robinson who tapped the ball into an empty net.

The former Cabinteely schoolboy, and current Derby County midfielder has done little wrong in an Ireland jersey since being given his chance by Kenny. And ahead of the Nations League campaign in June, he may play an even bigger role one may be allowed to assume.

The Contract.

Well, that was a pretty resounding way to silence the doubters, and it would seem strange if Kenny was not to be offered a contract extension now.

As recently as September, and last month, there were suggestions that the former Dundalk boss had games to save his job, but he has clearly answered those critics with a bang.

Yes, it was only Luxembourg, but one defeat in 10 tells the story of how this Irish team has developed in recent times, and there is probably more still to come.

Kenny has harnessed the ability in this squad in recent games with the switch to a back three, and that ability to switch things up when under pressure, while being successful is an asset. It is important that this is kept as this young side believes more and more.

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