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Ireland Player Ratings As Two Key Contributors Help Grind Out Gibraltar Win

Ireland Player Ratings As Two Key Contributors Help Grind Out Gibraltar Win
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton
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Gary Connaughton reporting from the Aviva Stadium for Ireland v Gibraltar

For a while there, things were looking a bit sticky. However, Ireland ultimately produced a decent second-half display to get over the line and secure a 3-0 victory against Gibraltar.

It was a game where an emphatic performance was needed to ease the pressure on Stephen Kenny, and while that wasn't quite achieved, it was encouraging to see the team respond to a very poor first half by upping their level of play significantly after the interval.

Here's how we rated the performances on the night.

Ireland player ratings in win over Gibraltar

Gavin Bazunu - 6

Gavin Bazunu had nothing of note to do in the first half, with his only contribution coming in getting on the end of a couple of aimless Gibraltar balls in behind the Irish defence.

That trend continued in the second half, although he was called upon to make one decent stop from a corner.



Nathan Collins - 6

Collins pushed incredibly high up the pitch when Ireland were in possession, often finding himself near the edge of the Gibraltar penalty area. He played a couple of nice passes at times, although they failed to break down the opposition defence.


He was substituted at halftime as Ireland switched to a back four.


John Egan - 6


Ireland v Gibraltar

John Egan - Ireland v Gibraltar

Egan has no defending to do for much of the game, acting as the deepest of the back three as O'Shea and Collins often advanced up the pitch.


He was largely a bystander in the second half as Ireland changed to a back four, limiting his opportunities to get involved in the opposition half.


Dara O'Shea - 6


O'Shea was not afraid to carry the ball forward as the Gibraltar defence dropped deep, although his final ball did let him down on a couple of occasions.

In terms of defensive work, he had very little to do.



Jason Knight - 7

Given plenty of space to operate down the right flank, Knight swung a couple of very dangerous balls into the box inside the opening few minutes. However, he did not get quite as much joy as the half went on.

He continued to be a willing runner all night and performed well.


James McClean - 7

Ireland v Gibraltar

James McClean - Ireland v Gibraltar

Earning his 100th cap, McClean was keen to get involved down the left flank in the opening 45 minutes. He sometimes struggled to find the space to either take on his man or swing the ball into the box, but he injected more pace into the Irish attack than most.

One of his crosses eventually found its target for Ireland's second goal, providing the assist for Ferguson's header. He missed a glorious chance late on that would have capped off a memorable evening, although he would then assist Idah's goal late on.


Josh Cullen - 6

Cullen tended to position himself just at edge of the Gibraltar box during sustained spells of Irish possession, but with the opposition dropping deep, you would have hoped for him to show a bit more adventure in his passing. He was too often content to simply pass the ball backwards or sideways to a teammate in the opening half hour or so.

The Burnley man did become a bit braver in his passing as the game went, also testing the goalkeeper from long range on one or two occasions.



Will Smallbone - 6

Smallbone was clearly instructed to drift into the right channel and deliver the ball into the penalty area, coming close to picking out a teammate on a few occasions early on. In saying that, he didn't quite impact the game in the manner you might have expected.

He did okay in a game where you would have hoped to see him really thrive.


Jamie McGrath - 7

Ireland v Gibraltar

Jamie McGrath - Ireland v Gibraltar

Showed his attacking intent right away by getting in the box and forcing a good stop from the Gibraltar goalkeeper inside the opening minute. He didn't quite have impact on play you would have hoped for over the remainder of the half, although he did draw another excellent save from the goalkeeper just before the interval.

He would also hit the bar with a header from a set-piece. McGrath showed a willingness to get into the box that we don't often see from other Irish midfielders.


Michael Obafemi - 5

Obafemi looked dangerous on occasion, but his final touch often let him down at vital moments in the opening 45 minutes. He did show some inventiveness around the edge of the box, something that could not be said of too many of his teammates.

In saying that, it just wasn't his day. He was substituted in the 57th minute.


Evan Ferguson - 8

It became apparent a few minutes into the game that Ireland's main method of attack would be to get it out wide and attempt to find Ferguson in the box, with the striker causing a few issues for the opposition defence in the first half.

That finally paid off just before the hour mark, with the Brighton man rising highest to tuck away a header and put his team two goals in front. He came very close to scoring a second late on as well, drawing a good save from the opposition goalkeeper.

His link up play in and around the box was very impressive, with the youngster receiving a standing ovation as he was substituted in the closing stages.



Mikey Johnston - 8

Ireland v Gibraltar

Mikey Johnston - Ireland v Gibraltar

Coming on at halftime, Johnston immediately injected some much needed life into a stagnant Irish attack. He scored his first ever international goal soon after, reacting quickest to Smallbone's deflected free-kick to score into an empty net.

His trickery was a bonus, but even things as simple as playing the ball out wide at speed was a big improvement on what we saw in the opening half. In fact, it led to Ireland's second goal. He came close to scoring again himself on a couple of occasions.

Johnston has impressed every time he has come on for Ireland and should be given an opportunity to start moving forward.


Troy Parrott - 6

Parrott was keen to get involved after coming on, showing some decent movement around the box and drawing a good save from the opposition goalkeeper soon after his introduction.


Alan Browne - 6

Looked lively after coming on, putting a couple of excellent balls into the penalty area.


Adam Idah & Jeff Hendrick - N/A

Not on long enough to rate, although it was great to see Idah get his first Ireland goal in stoppage time.

SEE ALSO: Ireland U21 Game Abandoned After Racist Remark Made Towards Irish Bench

Ireland U21 Kuwait


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