Shane Duffy averts Republic of Ireland humiliation against Azerbaijan


Paul Doyle

It could have been worse for the Republic of Ireland but it should have been much better. A humiliation even deeper than March’s home defeat by Luxembourg was on the cards until Shane Duffy sent an unstoppable header into the net three minutes from the end. That negated the sensational goal scored for Azerbaijan by Emin Mahmudov on the stroke of half-time and it earned Ireland their first point of the qualifying campaign. But good luck finding anyone gullible enough to believe they will be at the next World Cup.

Belief in Stephen Kenny is also being tested severely. The manager can point to just one win – in a friendly against Andorra – from 15 matches in charge. The story of this match, however, was not really one of systemic failure; Ireland created enough chances to have beaten the team ranked 112th in the world, but players frittered them away until Duffy struck at last.

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