Ireland hold Belgium to goalless draw as Ferguson misses spot kick for hosts

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Ireland hold Belgium to goalless draw as Ferguson misses spot kick for hosts

Evan Ferguson had the best chance of the game but missed
Evan Ferguson had the best chance of the game but missedAFP
The Republic of Ireland were left to rue Evan Ferguson’s first-half penalty miss, as they played out a goalless friendly draw against Belgium at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, with this result extending the visitors’ unbeaten run to 12 matches.

Taking charge of his first game as Ireland’s interim boss, John O’Shea saw his side carve out a golden chance in the opening exchanges against an experimental Belgium side. Debutant Sammie Szmodics produced a neat pass to send Chiedozie Ogbene racing through on goal, only for the Luton Town winger to send his left-foot strike into the side-netting.

The game’s next meaningful opportunity arrived in the 27th minute, when Arthur Vermeeren was penalised for handling the ball in the Belgium box. Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Matz Sels ultimately came to Vermeeren’s aid, making a strong stop to deny Ferguson from the penalty spot.

Following a lacklustre first period, Domenico Tedesco made three changes to his Belgium side at the break, including the introduction of Manchester City attacker Jeremy Doku.

However, it was the Boys in Green who instead flew out of the blocks immediately after the break, and threatened the Belgian goal within 10 seconds of the restart. Robbie Brady’s whipped cross found the towering Ferguson, but he was unable to keep his headed effort below the crossbar.

Ireland - Belgium stats
Ireland - Belgium statsFlashscore

In contrast to Ireland’s main striker, Loïs Openda was starved of clearcut opportunities before he finally forced Caoimhín Kelleher into action with a hooked half-volley from Bakayoko’s knockdown. As the contest entered the final 20 minutes, Kelleher was required again to make a diving stop, preventing Thomas Meunier from scoring his ninth international goal.

With neither team able to find a late winner, Ireland became the first nation to keep a clean sheet against Belgium since Croatia at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The hosts will look to produce another strong defensive display against Switzerland on Tuesday, while Domenico Tedesco’s charges will travel to Wembley for a clash with England.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Robbie Brady (Republic of Ireland)

Check out all the match stats with Flashscore.

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