A point away from home in any World Cup qualifier is usually considered a positive but Irish fans were left concerned and more than a little frustrating after their nation’s 2-2 draw against Serbia in Belgrade on Monday night.
A deflected Jeff Hendrick goal put the visitors in front with three minutes gone before Serbia hit back through Filip Kostic and a dubious Dusan Tadic penalty.
Having never scored for Ireland previously, the introduction of Daryl Murphy with 15 minutes remaining proved vital though as the Newcastle striker netted within minutes to secure the all-important equaliser.
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) September 5, 2016
All happy then? Not quite.
The official Uefa statistics from the game show just how fortunate Ireland were to even secure a point, in a game they found themselves under intense pressure from the hosts almost entirely throughout.
While you would always expect the home team to have more of the possession, it’s the Passing statistics that are truly jaw dropping.
- Serbia has a Passing Accuracy percentage of 90% compared to Ireland’s figure of 68%.
- Serbia made 409 passes in total compared to Ireland’s 138.
- Serbia completed 371 of those passes compared to Ireland’s equivalent figure of 94.
(Courtesy of Uefa.com)
In fact, Ireland seemed to play their best football when they went 2-1 down and were forced to chase the game, making their fancied Serbian opponents look very much an ordinary side when put under too much pressure in their own right.
Another interesting stat for both sides: Serbia picked up two yellow cards and Ireland four, even though they hosts registered more fouls committed (15 versus 14). Hopefully that won’t come back to haunt the Irish in coming fixtures.
So an opportunity missed perhaps, in spite of the numbers?
Next up for Martin O’Neill’s Ireland are Georgia at the Aviva Stadium on October 6th. A very different challenge, O’Neill and his management team will note the fact that the Georgian pushed Austria all the way in a 2-1 defeat in Tbilisi earlier on Monday evening.