| 18.1°C Dublin

so close Stephen Kenny and John Egan fail to hide their despair as Ireland denied 'greatest' win

Close

Jeff Hendrick of Republic of Ireland reacts after his side's defeat after the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying group A match between Portugal and Republic of Ireland at Estádio Algarve in Faro, Portugal. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Jeff Hendrick of Republic of Ireland reacts after his side's defeat after the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying group A match between Portugal and Republic of Ireland at Estádio Algarve in Faro, Portugal. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Jeff Hendrick of Republic of Ireland reacts after his side's defeat after the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying group A match between Portugal and Republic of Ireland at Estádio Algarve in Faro, Portugal. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Stephen Kenny could not hide his despair as he claimed his Ireland side were denied one of the greatest wins in the nation's history by Cristiano Ronaldo's two late goals in Portugal.

After losing both of their opening Group A games, Kenny’s men were in need of a positive result on what was billed as Ronaldo’s big night at the Estadio Algarve.

Ronaldo, who completed his switch back to Manchester United ahead of the transfer deadline, had a golden chance to move clear of Ali Daei’s mark from the penalty spot in the 15th minute.

However, his early penalty – given after a lengthy VAR review – was saved by 19-year-old Portsmouth goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu.

Sheffield United defender John Egan then headed Ireland in front from a corner just before the break to scores his first international goal.

That looked to have been enough to secure the Republic a memorable victory, only for Ronaldo to glance in a header with just one minute left – and then in the fifth minute of stoppage time, the United frontman produced a repeat finish to spark wild celebrations.

The late victory puts Portugal three clear of Serbia at the top of Group A, having played a match more, while Ireland remain pointless.

"We're hugely disappointed, the players have been exceptional tonight overall," he said.

"The game in the first half went as we wanted, we were able to counter with Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah's pace and were able to restrict Portugal's chances - and controlled passages of the game, and scored.

"We had the chance to go two up, but Portugal were very good second half, we had to dig in and we defended heroically.

"I just can't believe that we've lost because we should have won it.

"It would have been one of the greatest win in Irish history. We have won games in competitions, but never won a game like this way from home in qualifying.

Close

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts Miguel Andre Silva after the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the Estadio Algarve

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts Miguel Andre Silva after the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the Estadio Algarve

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts Miguel Andre Silva after the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the Estadio Algarve

"Ronaldo is a phenomenon, you can't take it away from him. Even at 36, he's incredible."

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Egan also struggled to find silver linings as his hopes of landing a famous winning goal in Portugal was snatched away at the last.

"It's honestly gutting," said the defender, who scored his first Republic goal in front of his family at Estadio Algarve.

"We're all gutted inside there, to put in that performance away from home against a world-class team, with one of the best ever players in it, we really felt like there was something there for us tonight.

"To walk away with nothing is very disappointing. We'll look back on it and it felt like a really good performance, but just gutted not to get a result."

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Top Videos





Privacy