It was another disappointing night for Stephen Kenny’s men. Once again, Ireland will rue missed chances. They could have and probably should have capitalised on space in both halves. Full report below.
Both sides looked dangerous on the break in the first half. Ireland continued their impressive passing display on the ground. Both Connolly and Horgan on the wings impressed, taking their men on and more often than not winning a free or keeping the ball.
A lack of confidence in front of goal hampered Ireland once again. Jeff Hendrick should have done better from 12 yards out after great work from Sean Maguire on the wing and a nice cutback from Horgan.
Sean Maguire himself will have nightmares about his first touch tonight after a pinpoint pass from Connolly ended up at his feet which should have at least produced a shot from the Preston forward.
Teemu Pukki also missed twice at the other end for the hosts. It was even throughout the first half and both managers would have been happy enough at the break.
The post was the bane of the Irish team once again in the second half. An awkward chance for Stevens almost crept in but the corner of the post saved the hosts. Both teams had chances before Fredrik Jensen broke the deadlock in the 67th minute. Darren Randolph misplaced a short kickout which eventually made its way to Jensen, who scored in the reverse fixture at the Aviva stadium last month. In truth, Ireland never really looked like scoring after that. Ronan Curtis came agonisingly close in injury time with a header, but the Finns shut up shop and shut the lads out.
It is hard to remain positive after a loss like that. It would be unfair to call either team the better or worse outfit but one thing is certain; Ireland are the losers. Despite some brilliant passing and link up play they failed to convert some good chances into goals. Another certainty is that nice play doesn’t win you games; goals do.
Ronan Curtis impressed in his brief cameo this evening. We didn’t see enough of Jason Knight to make a decision on him. Maguire was replaced by Brady seven minutes into the second half which was a bit harsh in my opinion. Alas, I am only manager of this armchair.
Connolly was solid throughout, throwing his weight around and making chances out of nothing. He should have had an assist to his name.
Dara O’Shea made his senior debut this evening. The U-21 captain was brilliant at the back, almost stopping the Finnish goal.
Wales are Kenny’s next challenge. Will Bale be available for Giggs? Will football still be allowed to go on if cases worldwide rise and rise? Will Kenny finally produce a winning result for this unconfident bunch?