Ireland took the lead against Qatar.
Just over three minutes into the game, Stephen Kenny‘s men executed a well-worked short corner with McClean finishing off the move to nab a goal on his 80th cap for his country.
What a brilliant team goal from Ireland ☘️
— Pundit Arena (@PunditArena) March 30, 2021
The Republic of Ireland.
Ireland were coming into this game on the back of two straight defeats to Serbia and Luxembourg during the ongoing international break.
The men in green have been subject to intense criticism over their recent lacklustre results, with some calling for Kenny to be replaced as the Ireland manager.
“There is an element of criticism there that is justified,” Kenny said before the Qatar game.
“That we need to be more creative in that final third and have better combination play between our attacking players and our wing-backs and I accept some of that criticism.
“Michael’s Northern Ireland had a long unsuccessful run, and lost to Luxembourg as well, in 2013, and that was a turning point as well. We want to be much better.
“We hit a low the other night, and we’ve got to take that on the chin, but I want to build a team that really exhilarates Irish football people. Some of our play against Slovakia and Serbia has been nothing short of brilliant and we’ll continue to build on that and get better again.”
Kenny made eight changes to the side that lost 1-0 to Luxembourg for Tuesday’s clash against Qatar. Only Seamus Coleman, Gavin Bazunu and Dara O’Shea have retained their places from the loss at the Aviva Stadium.
And it would appear that the changes have worked given Ireland’s early lead.
Social media reaction.
Following McClean’s crisp strike, plenty of social media users shared their thoughts on the goal.
James McClean. I always knew he was the answer.
— Carl Kinsella (@TVsCarlKinsella) March 30, 2021
What an emotional moment 🤩
— VBET News (@VBETnews) March 30, 2021
Well, the thing about James McClean is… he loves scoring goals!!!*
*Martin Keown punditry voice and intense staring eyes
— Ray Wingnut (@WingNutGalway) March 30, 2021
2017 – James McClean has scored his first goal for Republic of Ireland since October 2017 against Wales in a World Cup qualifier, ending a run of 24 appearances without finding the back of the net for his country. Leading. pic.twitter.com/WlMZOx7Wwa
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 30, 2021