So that’s that . . . Not the result Ireland wanted, but a brilliant atmosphere and performance to build on at the start of the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.
Match report and reaction to follow on the homepage. Thanks for joining us!
FT Ireland 0 France 1
Man of the match Chiedozie Ogbene: “A lot of positives to take from today and I think we had enough chances to get a point. We gave everything, and we trained to win this game all week.
“We matched one of, if not the best team in the world. The future is bright”
Here’s a look at those match-winning saves from Maignan...
FT Ireland 0 France 1 - The French players run to celebrate with their goalkeeper. Heartbreaking stuff for Ireland. Two superb saves deny them late on, and the goal they conceded was a complete gift. A really promising performance but Stephen Kenny’s team kick off their qualifying campaign with a loss.
Hernandez fluffs another clearance, and it should be an Irish corner but the referee felt Maignan caught it in play. He didn’t! Ogbene is then tackled in the corner by Tchouameni to end what looks like being Ireland’s final attack.
Ireland 0 France 1 (90′) Three minutes added on
Irish pressure forces a fluffed French clearance. Browne wins the second ball. The outstanding Ogbene takes it on down the line, and his cross is deflected out for a corner. Maignan makes a brilliant save from the corner as Kounde almost scored an own goal... From the following corner Collins forces another world class save with a bullet header! So close!!
Idah does well in the corner again, he plays a smart pass to McClean who makes a brilliant run into the box, and his shot is deflected and out for a corner. Browne almost gets on the end of it with an acrobatic effort.
Idah is involved again as Ireland work it out to Ogbene who sees his cross blocked by Hernandez with shouts for a handball. Molumby then shoots across goal, and a few Irish feet and heads almost get a touch on to it. Five minutes of normal time remain.
Ogbene’s cross is blocked but he bravely follows it up to head to Molumby in the box but his shot is blocked for a corner. McClean’s corner fails to beat the first man but Ireland are really pushing here..
Ireland 0 France 1 (80′) Idah shows strength and skill to win a ball over the top in the corner but his cut back is a poor one. Ireland have upped the energy and the game has really opened up. 10 minutes left as France bring on Kounde and Tchouameni.
Rabiot shoots from distance, given way way too much time to pick his spot, but Bazunu gets down well to save it. Ireland are about to make some changes...
McClean, Mikey Johnston, and Browne come on
Doherty, Knight and O’Shea come off
Knight is fouled, but the referee who is right beside it waves play on. France sensing another gift, play it across to substitute Moussa Diaby, who cuts back in and shoots but Bazuna saves his effort and Ireland clear away the scraps.
Ireland 0 France 1 (67′) A sharp interception by O’Shea wins it back for Ireland after some strong pressing from the midfielders. Coleman then tries to play Knight through but his pass is a little overhit.
Doherty comes through Muani to give away another free-kick to France just outside the box. A yellow card is shown to the Irish defender. Evan Ferguson is replaced by Adam Idah.
This time they cross it in and Ireland clear it away.
A look at that French goal...
Ireland 0 France 1 (59′) Terrific play from Ireland. Bazunu throws it out to Collins. He’s put under massive pressure but combines with Molumby and Bazunu before finding Coleman at right back. The Irish captain plays it down the line to Ogbene who skins Hernandez and rather than playing it to Ferguson who is looking for it in the box he pulls it across right across to Knight but his shot is blocked.
Ireland win it back and Ferguson is almost played through, although the offside flag was up and Mike Maignan was quick off his line.
*The Netherlands go 2-0 up against Gibraltar. Nathan Ake with their second goal.
Egan comes in late on Giroud. Giving the visitors a free-kick just outside the D. Griezmann takes it and Ferguson bravely gets his head in the way. That looked like it was going in.
Ireland 0 France 1 (50′) An absolute gift of a goal. Rabiot plays a ball across the Irish penalty area but there’s no blue jersey there. Cullen gathers and his lateral pass is cut out by Pavard on the edge of the French box. And the Bayern Munich defender pings it into the top corner!
Ogbene draws Hernandez in before a lovely touch takes him down the line. The French left back though takes him down, surely a yellow card is due. Molumby has started the half like he ended the first, flying into tackles.
Ireland 0 France 0 (46′) The second half is underway and Ireland go into the corner where the presence of Ferguson forces Upamecano to blast his clearance over the sideline. No changes to either team at the interval.
The best chance of the first half below... second half to follow!
HT Ireland 0 France 0 - Ferguson wins a free-kick, a frustrated Upamecano comes in to his back. But the free kick is a poor one from Collins and on the stroke of 45 minutes the referee blows the half-time whistle. A good showing from Ireland, they’ve looked very solid defensively. And been composed in possession without threatening. The scoreline is a fair reflection of that opening half.
Ireland 0 France 0 (42′) Ogbene wins a long ball into the corner, beating Hernandez again who this time lets his frustration get the better of him and buries the Irish forward in the back. The free-kick goes right through the box and falls to O’Shea but France clear it away before he can adjust his feet. Ireland then win back to back corners but can’t get a head to either, it’s promising play nonetheless.
Stephen Kenny is furious as the referee calls a foul on Doherty who looked to have tackled Muani fairly. France take it quickly, it’s worked out to Pavard who crosses in to Griezmann at the front post but his header is well wide.
Nathan Collins steps out to intercept a pass to Mbappe and carries it out. Ireland opt to keep possession though with only Ferguson, Knight and the overlapping Collins in attack. Impressive play by the young Wolves defender.
Ireland 0 France 0 (31′) Hernandez shoots from outside the box - Ireland seem to concede from distance in every game lately - but it deflects off Griezmann for an Irish goal kick. Half an hour gone and it’s still scoreless. So far so good for Ireland.
*Depay’s penalty gives the Netherlands a 1-0 lead against Gibraltar in the other game in the group
Superb stuff from Doherty. He wins the ball with a strong tackle around halfway and then carries it past two French defenders and wins a corner. But Ireland’s attempt to go short goes horribly wrong. And France are back on it again.
Ireland 0 France 0 (23′) Coleman makes a brilliant tackle on Mbappe in the penalty area, it’s out for a corner. Giroud gets up highest and his header comes off Coleman, and then Molumby but Bazunu reacts brilliantly to gather.
Ferguson shows great strength to hold the ball up and flick it through to Knight, he’s chopped down and Pavard is shown a yellow card.
Ireland 0 France 0 (20′) O’Shea gets a head on the free kick, across goal but France win the next two headers and counter. Jayson Molumby gets back to make a slide tackle on Mbappe. Then celebrates it like a goal. Love to see it!
Cullen whips it in but France head it away. Shouts for a hand ball, VAR have a look but no penalty. Doherty then steps inside Muani and wins a free kick just inside the French half. Ireland nowhere near as dangerous looking from set-pieces without Shane Duffy, but still they’ve three centre halves up there.
After 15 minutes it’s still scoreless. France are dominating the ball now but Ireland are defending well. Egan makes a diving block on the edge of the box. Ireland look to release Ogbene on the counter and he wins a free-kick out by the right corner flag.
Ireland 0 France 0 (12′) France look for Giroud with a well struck cross but John Egan gets in front of him to head clear. France have taken control of possession and the hosts do well to deal with three more back-to-back crosses looking for the AC Milan striker.
Ireland 0 France 0 (8′) The first scare for Ireland. Randal Kolo Muani is played inside but Bazuna is out quickly forcing the French attacker into a backheel back across goal, which the Ireland defence scramble away.
A confident start by Ireland, composed in possession and sharp to win it back! Ogbene backs himself down the right wing but is beaten to it by Theo Hernandez. Five minutes gone.
Ogbene cuts across Mbappe and wins an early free kick. Coleman loves it, so does the crowd. Ferguson then chases a long ball into the corner, holds it up and puts in a dangerous cross but Ireland’s first attack comes to nothing.
Ireland 0 France 0 (1′) The visitors get us underway. Game on!
A spine-tingling rendition of the national anthem, if that doesn’t get the Irish players up for it nothing will. The Aviva is rocking!!
Seamus Coleman leads the Irish team out, to a loud Aviva roar. Beside him Mbappe leads the French out. The two captains will go head to head tonight! There’s a great atmosphere building, hopefully the football can match it! Five minutes until kick-off!!
Stephen Kenny pre-match
On playing France: “It’s a very exciting game. It’s a big challenge ahead but very exciting at the same time because we know what we have to do and we have a clear plan.”
Matt Doherty at left back: “He’s played there for Tottenham and had a full season there for Wolves so it’s something he can do.”
A big ask for Ferguson? “He has the experience of playing against Konate twice already at club level in his short career. His attitude is good and he’s fearless and he deserves his chance.”
Six changes for Ireland from the win over Latvia, with Seamus Coleman in for the injured Callum O’Dowda. Josh Cullen, Jason Knight come into the midfield with Ogbene starting in place of Obafemi, Andrew Omobamidele is replaced at centre half by John Egan and in goal Gavin Bazunu gets the nod.
For France, Benjamin Pavard, Eduardo Camavinga and Olivier Giroud replace Jules Koundé, Aurélien Tchouameni and Kingsley Coman.
Republic of Ireland: Bazunu, Collins, Egan, O’Shea, Coleman, Molumby, Cullen, Doherty, Knight, Ogbene, Ferguson. Subs: Kelleher, Travers, Omobamidele, Browne, Obafemi, Idah, McClean, Hendrick, Sykes, McGrath, Smallbone, Johnson.
France: Maignan, Pavard, Konate, Upamecano, Hernandez, Camavinga, Griezmann, Rabiot, Kolo Muani, Mbappe, Giroud. Subs: Samba, Areola, Disasi, Koundé, Fofana, Tchouameni, M Thuram, Veretout, Todibo, K Thuram, Diaby, Coman.
Referee: Artur Dias (Portugal)
Ireland will need a big showing from Evan Ferguson tonight. He scored midweek and has had a brilliant breakthrough season at Brighton, something the French camp are aware of...
On Wednesday night, Ireland were 3-2 winners over Latvia. 24 hours later and France began their qualifying campaign off with a 4-0 win over the Dutch. Check out the match reports for both games below
Ireland 3 Latvia 2 - Ogbene seals win on night Evan Ferguson scores first international goal
France 4 Netherlands 0 - Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann share the glory as France thrash the Netherlands
Ireland’s qualifying fixtures:
27/3 - Republic of Ireland v France
16/6 - Greece v Republic of Ireland
19/6 - Republic of Ireland v Gibraltar
07/9 - France v Republic of Ireland
10/9 - Republic of Ireland v Netherlands
13/10 - Republic of Ireland v Greece
16/10 - Gibraltar v Republic of Ireland
18/11 - Netherlands v Republic of Ireland
Ken Early’s column this morning is looking ahead to this evening’s game. He explains why Stephen Kenny looks unwilling to deviate from his principles as Ireland meet France:
“We have lived through an era when the coaches who have carried all before them have been the ideologues – Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp – coaches who have been committed to a particular idea of how to play the game. Based on what he’s said and done since becoming Ireland manager, it seems likely Stephen Kenny sees himself in this tradition.”
[ Ken Early: Kenny looks unwilling to deviate from his principles as Ireland meet France ]
France did give the Dutch chances, but that’s the problem; win one skirmish and another breaks out 60 metres down field. Contain them for 10 minutes and they will suck everyone into a false sense of competitiveness before Tchouameni slides a pass in between Egan and Collins, for Mbappé to pounce. Reality to deliver a resounding French victory.
Check out Gavin Cummiskey’s preview in full here
European Championship qualifiers – Group B: Republic of Ireland v France, Aviva Stadium, 7.45pm
Hello and Welcome . . . Ireland kick-off their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign this evening at the Aviva Stadium. The World Cup finalists of three months ago, who hammered the Netherlands 4-0 three days ago, are in town ... it doesn’t get much tougher than this.
Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann brushed aside murmurings of an unhappy camp, scoring three of the four goals between them in that win in Paris. Can Ireland do better than Virgil van Dijk and co? Let’s see... kick-off is at 7.45pm.
We’ll keep you up to date with all the build-up, and action as it unfolds. Keep in touch via the comments section or on Twitter (@DonoghueEamon) but for now, let’s get started!!