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embarrassing Enda Stevens admits revenge will be on Irish minds in Luxembourg clash

Ireland will run out at the Stade de Luxembourg on Sunday still smarting from the 1-0 home defeat they suffered at the hands of the same opposition in Dublin in March.

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Portugal's Bruno Fernandes (left) and Republic of Ireland's Enda Stevens battle for the ball during the FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Picture date: Thursday November 11, 2021. PA Photo.

Portugal's Bruno Fernandes (left) and Republic of Ireland's Enda Stevens battle for the ball during the FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Picture date: Thursday November 11, 2021. PA Photo.

Portugal's Bruno Fernandes (left) and Republic of Ireland's Enda Stevens battle for the ball during the FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Picture date: Thursday November 11, 2021. PA Photo.

Enda Stevens is determined to right the wrongs of an horrific night for the Republic of Ireland when they bring down the curtain on their World Cup qualifying campaign in Luxembourg.

Ireland will run out at the Stade de Luxembourg on Sunday still smarting from the 1-0 home defeat they suffered at the hands of the same opposition in Dublin in March as their hopes of making it to Qatar next year suffered a major blow.

Three days after losing 3-2 in Serbia, a result which was harsh on Stephen Kenny’s side, they succumbed to Gerson Rodrigues’ 85th-minute strike, a result which piled the pressure on a manager who had not at that point presided over a victory in 10 attempts.

Sheffield United defender Stevens said: “Definitely it was a low point for us. We didn’t perform well and it was just kind of the game that got away from us.

“We had an unlucky game in Serbia and we wanted to kick on and it just didn’t happen for us. It was just a huge disappointment.

“We were just flat, the dressing room was flat after the game. We had to pick ourselves up, it was a tough result for us.”

Ireland’s qualification hopes effectively died that night in what was just their second Group A fixture, although they were denied a way back into the campaign in dramatic fashion when they resumed in September and saw Cristiano Ronaldo snatch away a famous victory in Faro with a remarkable late show.

Home draws with Azerbaijan and Serbia left them fighting an unlikely battle with Luxembourg for third place, one they will win if they emerge from their trip to the Grand Duchy victorious as a result of Thursday night’s 0-0 home draw with the Portuguese.

There is little doubt that Kenny’s side, ranked 51st by FIFA, 43 places ahead of Sunday’s hosts, has improved significantly since March – the defeat in Faro is the only one in their last nine fixtures – and they are keen to demonstrate that progress is being made as they adapt to the manager’s philosophy.

Stevens, 31, said: “We’ve got a point to prove against them. It’s something to play for. We’re playing for pride and we want to finish as high as we can in this group stage. It’s going to be a tough game over there, but one we look forward to.

“We want to progress and we want to move forward and we have that style of play now, formation, and we want to keep getting better.

“There is plenty of room for improvement in that process. We’re always going to tinker with it for each opposition and we’re all kind of building that momentum and style of play, we’re learning it and growing as a team and as a squad. It can only bode well for the future.”

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