Ireland kept their World Cup hopes very much alive in Copenhagen with a 0-0 draw against Denmark.
The match itself was a largely uninspired affair, the Danes arguably having the better of it in the first half with Darren Randolph being called into action on a number of occasions.
In the second, however, the intensity levels dropped off even more and a 0-0 draw was almost nailed-on as neither team seemed to have the tools to unlock the other’s defence.
To the Aviva on Tuesday it is, winner takes all with a spot in Russia up for grabs.
But who stood out for the Boys in Green on a night where conservative football was the real winner?
Ireland Player Ratings
Darren Randolph. Made a brilliant reaction double-save in the first half, and looked alert when needed. Had a quiet second half as the Irish defence limited Denmark’s attack but came to the rescue again in the dying minutes.
Cyrus Christie. Arguably his best performance for Ireland. Christie looked lively down the right hand side for Ireland, and nearly broke the deadlock after a fine run – only to see his shot saved by Kasper Schmeichel.
Ciaran Clark. Gifted a chance to Eriksen in the first half, one that Sisto should have scored. Otherwise looked slightly below his usual composed self.
Shane Duffy. Organised as always at the back, Duffy helped to stifle and frustrate Denmark’s forwards throughout. Could actually have won the game late on but his header in a dangerous area came to little.
Stephen Ward. Covered well for James McClean on the left, but overall it was a quiet night for the Burnley man.
Harry Arter. Could perhaps have been given more of a free role if either Meyler or Whelan had played, Arter nonetheless coped well in a defensive midfield role. The Bournemouth man was tireless in protecting the defence and can be more than happy with his night’s work.
Jeff Hendrick. Awkward. A brief flash of form in Cardiff once again gave way to the level of performance that Hendrick has been giving since the campaign began. How much of that is down to how O’Neill utilises the Burnley midfielder remains to be seen, but a change for Tuesday should come into consideration.
Callum O’Dowda. The surprise choice for the night, O’Dowda probably didn’t have the sort of impact or display that he would have liked. O’Neill clearly has great faith in the Bristol City winger and he will get more chances to impress,
Robbie Brady. Had to adapt quickly once again to a relatively unfamiliar central role, Brady nonetheless was a handful for the Danish defence when he got on the ball. His set pieces were hit and miss again, but he definitely grew in stature and confidence – especially in the second half.
James McClean. Gave a typically spirited performance, though his tendency to go too far with it at time was evident – and when that happens, his decision-making suffers. Still, McClean was the most likely to make something happen and he’ll be well up for the fight in Dublin.
Daryl Murphy. Isolated up front, but then he was always going to be on a night like this. Ireland were not overly adventurous going froward, which in turn didn’t allow for Murphy to do much on the ball.
Shane Long (Murphy 74). Replaced Murphy with fifteen minutes remaining and while the Southampton forward created trouble with his very presence, his lack of confidence in the goal area is still a major concern.
Glenn Whelan (Arter 87). Was brought on to shore up the midfield in the final minutes. Didn’t even have to do that, really.
Conor Hourihane (Hendrick 90+3). Barely had time to jog onto the pitch.
In this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish football podcast, we review last week’s FAI Cup final with former Cork City defender Derek Coughlan and look ahead to Ireland’s massive World Cup play-off against Denmark.