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Republic of Ireland v Belgium Live Commentary, 3/26/22

2 - 2
C. Ogbene (35)
A. Browne (85)
M. Batshuayi (12)
H. Vanaken (58)
Aviva Stadium


That's all from the Aviva Stadium today, so thank you for joining us and goodbye!
Having extended their unbeaten run to a seventh game on the FAI's 100th anniversary, Ireland take on Lithuania in their next friendly on Tuesday, before returning to competitive action in the Nations League against Ukraine in early June. Meanwhile, Belgium will meet Burkina Faso next week before beginning their Nations League campaign against the Netherlands later this year.
Demonstrating the fortitude that has typified recent performances, Ireland fought back twice to secure a draw against the team ranked number one in the world, who were staffed mostly by their second string today. Meanwhile, Belgium will be disappointed that their dominance of the ball did not translate into many clear-cut chances, and their troubling run of form rolls on into 2022. The Red Devils' attempts to embed some fresh faces while offering others a rest resulted in a tame final-third display; leaving Martinez with much to ponder over the coming days.
T. Parrott
C. Robinson
Republic of Ireland
90' + 2' In the dying moments, Robinson is withdrawn and Parrott is brought on up front for the home side.
89' After Doherty stands up an inviting cross to the back post, where neither Ogbene or Robinson can quite make clean contact, Mignolet scrambles the ball clear as the flag goes up for offside.
87' Belgium are seeking another goal to earn the victory they for so long looked like securing, and Vanaken wins a free-kick in the Ireland half after a foul by Coleman. However, the set-piece comes to nothing.
C. Ogbene
Republic of Ireland
85' As Doherty had overhit his pass towards the right touchline, Ogbene did brilliantly to keep it in play and then deliver a pinpoint cross towards Browne, who then scored.
A. Browne
Republic of Ireland
85' IRELAND LEVEL AGAIN! After Doherty wins the ball in midfield, Ogbene does well to keep it in by the right corner flag and cut it back towards the six-yard box. Browne leaps highest at the near post, beating Mangala to the ball and powering a header into the bottom right corner - leaving Mignolet with no chance! It's 2-2 in Dublin!
C. Benteke
M. Batshuayi
83' Martinez makes a change in attack, as Batshuayi is taken off; the experienced Benteke comes on.
82' Though Duffy stays down after landing on his back following an aerial challenge, the towering defender is eventually able to continue and wincingly returns to his feet.
R. Manning
J. McClean
Republic of Ireland
80' Having put in a typically energetic showing, veteran winger McClean makes way for Manning on the left.
78' Boyata makes a crucial interception in the area, as Keane almost delivers an immediate impact from the bench; chasing onto a ball through from midfield.
A. Browne
J. Hendrick
Republic of Ireland
76' Kenny switches things up in midfield, too, as Browne replaces Hendrick.
W. Keane
J. Knight
Republic of Ireland
76' Ireland respond to Belgium's substitutions; replacing Knight with Keane, who will slot in at centre-forward.
A. Januzaj
C. De Ketelaere
76' After growing quieter as the game wore on, De Ketelaere makes way for Januzaj on the wing.
O. Mangala
A. Theate
75' In the first of series of late changes for either side, Theate is replaced by Mangala, who makes his senior international debut.
74' The game continues to drop in intensity, as McClean wins a free-kick on the left wing following a foul by De Ketelaere.
72' A foul on Coleman brings Belgium's long spell of possession to an end, and Ireland have the opportunity to push a few yards further upfield.
69' Curiously, neither manager has made a substitution since Foket's half-time introduction - perhaps a sign of taking the outcome of this match more seriously than expected.
67' Hendrick drags an awful effort well wide of the left post from 25 yards out, after good build-up play from Robinson in the final third.
65' The hosts are far from out of this game approaching the final quarter, as Ireland sustain a spell of pressure in the Belgium half.
63' Now acutely aware of the danger posed by Robinson and Ogbene on the break, Belgium prioritise possession in their own half, as Ireland continue to press eagerly.
61' SAVE! Mignolet is equal to a powerful low strike towards the bottom-right corner of his goal by Robinson, who turned swiftly to evade Denayer and shoot from the left edge of the area.
T. Hazard
58' Hazard curled in a dangerous cross from the corner, which Vanaken rose highest to meet.
H. Vanaken
58' BELGIUM BACK IN FRONT! An inswinging corner from the right by Hazard picks out Vanaken in the centre of the box, and the latter's header nestles in the back of the net via a deflection; giving Belgium a 2-1 lead!
57' CLOSE! Batshuayi receives the ball from Tielemans and shakes off the attentions of two green shirts to shoot at goal from the right side of the box; however, Egan's block sends the ball behind for a corner.
55' Tielemans earns a free-kick in midfield, but his attacking team-mates are static, and there are no viable options to take. Martinez looks increasingly pensive on the touchline.
53' From the centre circle, Egan's low throughball towards Ogbene splits the Belgium defence, but the Irish goalscorer is then flagged for offside.
51' After a shaky start following the half-time break, Belgium are able to get back on an even keel with some possession in midfield and at the back.
49' Twice making crucial interventions in the box, Foket blocks Knight's effort at goal, following a perceptive pass by Hendrick from midfield. Ireland have a corner, and are clearly on top in the opening stages of the second half.
47' OFF THE LINE! Denayer desperately denies Ireland with a last-ditch clearance, after Coleman wins the ball inside the Belgium area; the ball breaking to McClean on the left side of the box, before his scuffed shot is turned goalwards by the heel of Robinson.
46' We are back under way at the Aviva Stadium!
T. Foket
A. Saelemaekers
46' Following the interval, Belgium make the first of six possible substitutions, as Saelemaekers is withdrawn for Foket on the right flank.
Both squads feature a handful of potential debutants on the bench, so as the second half progresses a number of new faces may have the chance to impress their respective coaches. Others will be looking to secure their place in the pecking order ahead of the upcoming Nations League campaign, and of course, Belgium are building towards the World Cup.
Two moments of individual excellence illuminated a first half dominated, in terms of possession, by the away side, and Ireland may feel a little fortunate to be level at the break. After Batshuayi's perceptive run and fine finish, Ogbene later struck back by brilliantly contriving an equaliser from an improbable position - beating several white Belgian shirts with his overhead kick. All of which leaves an unexpected home win still very much on the table during the second half.
44' Theate reacts with bemusement as the referee decides that the centre-back clipped Ogbene on the left side of the pitch. However, Cullen's free-kick into the box is easily gathered by Mignolet under no pressure.
42' Despite seeing their lead vanish following Ogbene's moment of magic, Belgium have had 68 per cent of the ball so far and will feel they should be heading towards the interval with an advantage.
40' Ireland have gained confidence from hauling themselves back onto level terms, and Boyata has to guide a threatening McClean cross behind for a corner to the hosts.
37' After scoring just 11 goals in their first 16 games under Kenny, now Ireland have netted 11 in their last five - with six of those coming from Robinson and now three from Ogbene.
C. Ogbene
Republic of Ireland
35' IRELAND ARE LEVEL! Rewarded for their first sustained attack with an equalising goal, Ireland score through an acrobatic strike by Ogbene. After Robinson stands the ball up into the six-yard box, the ball breaks loose to the young winger, who manages to get it under control with his back to goal before turning in a spectacular overhead kick from 10 yards out. It's 1-1 in Dublin!
33' Ireland's first corner is whipped in by Cullen, and Mignolet makes a meal of punching it away, but just about manages to do so.
31' After winning the ball high up on the left flank, Knight slices a cross into the box, which drifts over Mignolet's crossbar and out for a Belgium goal-kick.
29' The home side's attempts to press higher up the pitch have repeatedly come to nothing, as Belgium continue to pass calmly out from the back and circulate the ball in midfield.
27' Taking the ball down into his stride down the right flank, Doherty is penalised for handball, as a rare Ireland attacking opportunity comes to a swift conclusion.
25' Ireland have seen very little of the ball so far, as Belgium dominate, and Martinez will surely be impressed by the impact some of his younger players have made so far today.
23' Already behind today, Ireland have not overcome Belgium since a friendly victory in May 1966, and the Boys In Green most recently lost 3-0 to their fellow European nation at Euro 2016.
21' CLOSE! After a mazy dribble by Hazard, cutting in from the left and sending four green shirts chasing back into the box, he rolls the ball into the space just vacated, and Batshuayi scuffs a shot into Kelleher's side-netting from the left side of the area.
19' Ireland are reduced to chasing shadows, as this second-string Belgium side emulate the confidence and composure of their more established colleagues.
17' Enjoying much more of the ball during the last five minutes, De Ketelaere is brought down by McClean inside the Irish half, and Belgium continue to make the running in the opening quarter of this game.
15' Cullen is forced to slide in to block as Batshuayi threatens to extend Belgium's advantage; turning and firing a shot from inside the area. That will be a corner for the away side.
13' Batshuayi has now been directly involved in 17 goals from his last 16 starts for Belgium (15 goals, two assists).
H. Vanaken
12' After Ireland conceded possession in the centre circle, Vanaken was able to pick out Batshuayi in space down the left; leading to the opening goal.
M. Batshuayi
12' BELGIUM LEAD! Out of nothing, the visitors go in front, as Batshuayi continues his potent international form with a self-made goal. The Besiktas striker receives the ball from Vanaken near the left touchline, drifts inside under little pressure and then curls a precise shot in at the far post from the left side of the area. Ireland 0-1 Belgium!
9' Belgium concede a couple of cheap free-kicks in central midfield, with today's captain Tielemans twice penalised for over-eager challenges.
7' Over the past couple of minutes, Belgium have started to boss the ball, taking a grip of the game without making much progress into the Irish defensive third.
5' Before today's encounter, Belgium hadn’t played away against the Republic of Ireland since October 1997, in a World Cup qualifier - drawing 1-1 at Lansdowne Road with Luc Nilis equalising after Denis Irwin had opened the scoring.
3' On a sunny day in South Dublin, the game has begun at a familiar 'friendly' pace - neither side is in a hurry to press forward as yet.
1' We are under way at the Aviva Stadium!
Both teams are out on the pitch in Dublin, conducting a moment's reflection upon the events in Ukraine - and kick-off is now just moments away!
Belgium have opted to leave illustrious names such as Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco, Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens and Romelu Lukaku out of the squad during this international window, so several fringe players are handed an opportunity to impress today. Among a number of players vying to be involved at the World Cup, Bologna's Theate comes into the defence, while the in-demand De Ketelaere joins Batshuayi up front.
After Manchester City goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu - currently impressing on loan at Portsmouth - withdrew due to illness, Liverpool's League Cup hero Kelleher starts as the hosts' last line of defence today, behind a three-man defence. Rewarded for his contribution from the bench in Luxembourg, Knight now starts in midfield, alongside Hendrick and Cullen - with the latter representing Belgian giants Anderlecht at club level.
SUBS: Thomas Kaminski, Matz Sels, Leandro Trossard, Siebe Van der Heyden, Christian Benteke, Orel Mangala, Divock Origi, Yari Verschaeren, Thomas Foket, Sebastiaan Bornauw, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Adnan Januzaj.
BELGIUM (3-4-3): Simon Mignolet; Dedryck Boyata, Arthur Theate, Jason Denayer; Alexis Saelemaekers, Leander Dendoncker, Youri Tielemans, Thorgan Hazard; Hans Vanaken, Michy Batshuayi, Charles de Ketelaere.
SUBS: James Talbot, Max O'Leary, Troy Parrott, Mark Sykes, Nathan Collins, Dara O'Shea, Jayson Molumby, Will Keane, Ryan Manning, Alan Browne, Conor Hourihane, Scott Hogan.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (3-4-3): Caoimhin Kelleher; Seamus Coleman, Shane Duffy, John Egan; Matt Doherty, Josh Cullen, Jeff Hendrick, James McClean; Chiedozie Ogbene, Callum Robinson, Jason Knight.
By contrast with their hosts, Belgium comfortably qualified for the upcoming World Cup; accumulating 20 points from eight matches to finish top of Group E. Having claimed third at the 2018 Finals, Roberto Martinez's side remain among the favourites to prevail later this year, but have won only one of their last four matches - including losses to France and Italy in the Nations League. The Red Devils' most recent run-out was a 1-1 draw with Wales in their final qualifying fixture last November.
As the Football Association of Ireland celebrates its 100th year in today's centenary match, the Republic of Ireland take to the field for the first time in 2022, following after a positive end to last year. Stephen Kenny's side most recently recorded a 3-0 win over Luxembourg in their final World Cup qualifier last November, days after a goalless draw with Portugal. Despite coming up well short of reaching Qatar, Ireland won two and drew three of their final five qualification matches and are on a run of four games without conceding a goal - today seeking to stretch their unbeaten streak to seven matches.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of today's international friendly between the Republic of Ireland and Belgium at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin!