The Republic of Ireland scored three second-half goals as they ended their World Cup qualifying campaign on a high with victory over Luxembourg.
Shane Duffy opened the scoring after 67 minutes when he headed home from Josh Cullen’s free-kick.
Chiedozie Ogbene added a second when he converted from close range before Callum Robinson tapped in a late third.
The win sees the Republic finish above Luxembourg in third place in Group A on goal difference.
The Republic’s opener came after Luxembourg’s Danel Sinani saw his 54th-minute strike ruled out following a foul on Duffy in the build-up.
It is a satisfying end to what has ultimately been a disappointing campaign for the Republic, the nadir of which was the shock 1-0 home defeat by Luxembourg in March.
But manager Stephen Kenny has overseen an improvement in results since then – with only one defeat in 10 games – and will be pleased with how his players avenged that harrowing loss in their first meeting with Luxembourg.
Ogbene stars again
Rotherham winger Ogbene has impressed for the Irish since making his debut in a friendly against Hungary in October, and was once again a bright spark for Kenny’s side.
Popping up on both wings, the 24-year-old used his pace and direct running to unnerve the Luxembourg defence, and almost had an assist after nine minutes when he sprinted down the right flank before his deflected cross found Robinson, who forced a save from Ralph Schon.
Ogbene could have had his goal before half-time when Christopher Martins Pereira gifted him the ball on the edge of the box, but the former Cork City winger failed to beat Schon.
Ogbene perhaps should have won a penalty after Maxime Chanot appeared to tug at his shirt after Adam Idah had his own appeal for a spot-kick turned down having gone down under Vahid Selimovic’s challenge.
Positive in possession throughout, Ogbene’s enterprising style of play was rewarded with his second Republic goal, poking home from close range after being teed up by substitute Jason Knight.
While the Republic dominated much of the first half, they lost their way for a spell in the second period and breathed a huge sigh of relief when Sinani’s celebrations were cut short after a foul on Duffy.
Luxembourg’s disallowed goal came just five minutes after Gerson Rodrigues – who scored the winner in Dublin – squandered a big chance to open the scoring, curling his shot straight into Bazunu’s grasp after a poor attempted clearance by Duffy.
Having withstood that period of pressure from the hosts, however, the Irish ended the game in style with Duffy getting on the end of Cullen’s free-kick to break the deadlock with his seventh international goal.
Ogbene doubled the lead on 75 minutes and Robinson tapped into an empty net with two minutes of normal time remaining after Knight had directed James McClean’s pass into the West Brom striker’s path, to wrap up the Republic’s second competitive win in 15 attempts.
Kenny will be pleased with how his attacking players finished their chances in the second half, but there was another eye-catching display from Gavin Bazunu in the Republic goal, producing the best moment of the first half when he dived brilliantly to tip Olivier Thill’s deflected shot behind for corner.
It was a third clean sheet in a row for Bazunu, who earned his seventh cap of the campaign to equal Ian Harte and Robbie Keane for the most competitive Republic appearances by a teenager.
With their qualification hopes having been ended earlier in the campaign, it was another another positive result for the Republic and Kenny, who is hoping to extend his contract with his current deal set to expire next summer.
President Gerry McAnaney and chief executive officer Jonathan Hill were among a Football Association of Ireland delegation at the Stade De Luxembourg as they prepare to sit down to discuss Kenny’s future.
- The Republic of Ireland have won three of their past four matches in all competitions (D1), as many as their previous 22 beforehand (W3 D11 L8).
- They have scored 20 goals in 12 internationals in 2021, two more than they scored in 27 games across 2018, 2019 and 2020 combined (18 goals).
- They have kept a clean sheet in four consecutive internationals under a single manager for the first time since October 2011, a run of eight under Giovanni Trapattoni.
- Shane Duffy has scored three goals in his past six internationals, as many as his previous 33.
- Chiedozie Ogbene is the first player to score in both of his first two competitive away internationals for the Republic of Ireland since Stephen Ireland in 2007.
- Ogbene has more goals in his five senior international games (two) than he does in 58 appearances in all competitions for his current club Rotherham United (one).
- Having only scored once in his first 20 senior internationals for Republic of Ireland, Callum Robinson has since got six in his last four for his country.
- 18JansBooked at 68mins
- 2ChanotBooked at 77mins
- 5SelimovicBooked at 6mins
- 8Martins PereiraBooked at 19minsSubstituted forThillat 86′minutes
- 16Barreiro Martins
- 11Borges SanchesSubstituted forDevilleat 52′minutes
- 6Zambujo Pimentel
R. of Ireland
- 4DuffyBooked at 56mins
- 10DohertySubstituted forParrottat 90′minutes
- 6CullenBooked at 47minsSubstituted forHourihaneat 90′minutes
- 20OgbeneSubstituted forBrowneat 82′minutesBooked at 89mins
- 7RobinsonSubstituted forOmobamideleat 90′minutes
- 9IdahSubstituted forKnightat 62′minutesBooked at 84mins
- Tamás Bognár
Match ends, Luxembourg 0, Republic of Ireland 3.
Second Half ends, Luxembourg 0, Republic of Ireland 3.
Foul by James McClean (Republic of Ireland).
Laurent Jans (Luxembourg) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Conor Hourihane replaces Josh Cullen.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Troy Parrott replaces Matt Doherty.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Andrew Omobamidele replaces Callum Robinson.
Alan Browne (Republic of Ireland) is shown the yellow card.
Goal! Luxembourg 0, Republic of Ireland 3. Callum Robinson (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jason Knight following a fast break.
Substitution, Luxembourg. Sébastien Thill replaces Christopher Martins Pereira.
Jason Knight (Republic of Ireland) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Jason Knight (Republic of Ireland).
Danel Sinani (Luxembourg) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Mica Pinto.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Alan Browne replaces Chiedozie Ogbene.
Shane Duffy (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Maurice Deville (Luxembourg).
Corner, Luxembourg. Conceded by John Egan.
Attempt blocked. Leandro Barreiro Martins (Luxembourg) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Olivier Thill with a cross.
Attempt saved. Callum Robinson (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Matt Doherty.