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stalemate Richard Dunne gives his verdict as he highlights Ireland's big weak spot after Portugal draw


Republic of Ireland's Callum Robinson shoots at goal Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Republic of Ireland's Callum Robinson shoots at goal Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Republic of Ireland's Callum Robinson shoots at goal Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Richard Dunne believes progress is being made by Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny, but he suggests the lack of creative flair remains a major flaw in their make-up after a 0-0 draw against Portugal at the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland produced an encouraging performance against a star-studded Portugal side at the Aviva Stadium, but the goal that would have turned a good night into a great night did not arrive.

Former Ireland defender Dunne suggests Portugal's eagerness to collect a point as they head into Sunday's Group A decider limited their ambitions, as he suggested Kenny's side need to have more attacking thrust.

"To get a result against a Portugal side classed as one of the best ten in the world is a big result," Dunne told Sky Sports. "It shows there has been a level of progress.

"An Ireland side going into this campaign would have looked at the Portugal game and say they needed to get points to try and qualify. Obviously, the early results put us in a poor situation, but there are signs of progress.

"But there was a lack of creativity in the Irish team. There weren't very many combinations, there weren't many patterns of play, but it is positive because we have got a point against a strong nation.

"The lack of a central midfielder who can create things is a big issue for us at the moment. There is a lack of creativity there and we just didn't have the players or the ideas to open them up, but we got the result.

"When you sit back and analyse the game I'd ask how Portugal rated their performance. They needed a point and they got it."

For his part, Kenny gave an upbeat assessment of his side's performance, as they edged towards the end of what has often been a traumatic World Cup qualifying campaign with a 0-0 draw against Portugal in Dublin.

"I thought we started a little nervously, Portugal were very good early on. In the second half I thought we were the better team," he told Sky Sports.

"We've played them twice, leading 1-0 out there after 88 minutes and in the second half tonight I thought we were excellent.

"There's room for improvement but we had more shots on target than they did. It was a good performance. We've evolved, you can see the way we're playing.

"In nine matches, we've only lost one, in Faro in the 97th minute. We're going well."

Portugal now head into Sunday's game against Serbia with their World Cup qualifying fate in their own hands, while a win for Ireland in Luxembourg giving Kenny's men a chance to finish third in Group A after a challenging campaign.

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