Portugal 2-1 Ireland.
The Republic of Ireland almost recorded a stunning victory over Portugal on Wednesday night in Faro. Stephen Kenny’s team were leading the World Cup qualifier 1-0 thanks to John Egan’s first-half header until the final few minutes of the game when Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to break Irish hearts. Gavin Bazunu had earlier saved a penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo. Here is how we rated the Ireland players after a cruel defeat.
WOW, WOW, WOW 🔥
Ronaldo has done it again 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/TOWu9HFqMC
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) September 1, 2021
Ireland player ratings from Portugal victory.
Gavin Bazunu – 9
The Manchester City goalkeeper, currently on loan with Portsmouth, earned his fifth cap for Ireland and had a busy night in the goal. Bazunu played a short pass into Hendrick, which resulted in a penalty for the home side. Bazunu, however, made amends with a flying save to deny Ronaldo and stop his penalty.
The former Shamrock Rovers goalkeeper is growing in stature with every match and will never forget the moment he saved a penalty from Ronaldo. Bazunu was excellent in the game, and helped Ireland with some intelligent distribution. The 19-year-old came of age in the defeat.
Incredible moment for 19-year-old Bazunu 👏 pic.twitter.com/dsfu5i5Exl
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) September 1, 2021
Seamus Coleman – 8
The Ireland captain started as a right-wing back and was one of the team’s best players going forward. Coleman broke forward whenever he could and was one of the most composed Irish players in possession.
The Everton captain also helped relieve pressure on his team with his passing, getting Ireland up the pitch with some important balls forward.
John Egan – 9
Egan was named Ireland’s men’s player of the year ahead of the game, and is already the frontrunner for next year’s award after his display against Portugal, particularly in the first half.
The Sheffield United defender was Ireland’s best player in the opening period, marshalling the defence and putting his body on the line.
Egan also scored a wonderful header, his first goal for Ireland, at the end of the first half, guiding home a header at the near post, a goal reminiscent of Roy Keane against Juventus in 1999.
Shane Duffy – 8
Duffy did his part to help Ireland keep Portugal at bay for most of the match, making several clearances and putting his body on the line throughout. The Brighton defender looks to be back to his best.
Dara O’Shea – N/A
The West Brom defender was the third-piece in the back three and was involved in some physical battles with the Portuguese players before he was forced off with an injury. O’Shea appeared to injure his ankle when fouling Diogo Jota.
Matt Doherty – 8
Doherty started in an unfamiliar position as a left wing-back and was kept busy early in the game as Portugal targetted Ireland’s left-hand side.
The Tottenham full-back, however, started brightly and helped Ireland win the ball back and get up the pitch.
Doherty arguably had his best game in an Ireland shirt, he was strong defensively, won several challenges, read the game well and was willing to get forward whenever he could.
Josh Cullen – 7
The Anderlecht midfielder worked hard and showed some glasses of quality on the ball, particularly when he played in Connolly with a wonderful dinked pass with the outside of his boot over the top of the Portugal defence. Cullen was calm and precise in possession, and moved the ball quickly,
Jeff Hendrick – 6
The Newcastle United midfielder fouled Bruno Fernandes to concede a penalty, which Bazunu subsequently saved. Hendrick was put under pressure with the pass, but he didn’t look comfortable collecting the ball in that position. The Dubliner worked hard but, was limited in possession and his passes lacked penetration. Ireland are missing a dynamic midfield presence and, unfortunately, Hendrick doesn’t appear to be the answer.
Jamie McGrath – 7
The St Mirren midfielder came into the team for his debut after impressing for his club last season, when he scored 17 goals for the Scottish Premiership side. McGrath made his mark on the World Cup qualifier, swinging in an inch-perfect corner for Egan to head home.
Adam Idah – 8
Idah got the nod to start upfront and was impressive. The Norwich City striker battled hard and held the ball up well. Idah relieved considerable pressure on his teammates by winning free kicks and was neat in possession. Idah looks capable of leading the line for Ireland for the next few years.
Aaron Connolly – 4
Connolly was a surprise inclusion, as he has hardly featured for his club Brighton this season and has failed to impress, so far, at international level. Kenny was arguably trying to utilise Connolly’s pace against 38-year-old Portugal defender Pepe.
Connolly, however, was loose in possession and made some poor decisions on the ball – none more so than when he didn’t lift his head to see Idah ready for a tap-in, or open his body and shoot when one-on-one with Rui Patricio.
Connolly just didn’t appear to be on the same wavelength as his teammates and opted for some very low percentage, poorly executed, shots. He was, however, unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in the second half.
Andrew Omobamidele – 7
The Norwich City defender came on for his debut and didn’t look out of place, helping Ireland keep Portugal at bay for most of the game.
James McClean – 4
McClean’s defending for the cross that led to Ronaldo’s goal was poor and he shot instead of crossing when Ireland had a chance to go back in front. Both of Portugal’s goals came down his side.]
James Collins and Jayson Molumby – N/A.
Not on the pitch long enough to rate.