Tuesday 17 October 2017

Ireland v Serbia Player Ratings - Wes Hoolahan the pick of the Irish selection

Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland in action against Filip Kostic of Serbia during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Group D match between Republic of Ireland and Serbia at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Wes Hoolahan of Republic of Ireland in action against Filip Kostic of Serbia during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Group D match between Republic of Ireland and Serbia at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

It was a desperately disappointing night for Ireland as their World Cup dreams evaporated amid a 1-0 defeat against Serbia despite a much improved performance at the Aviva Stadium. Here is how we rated the Ireland players.

DARREN RANDOLPH - A fine sprawling save after 32 minutes was a high point for the Middlesbrough keeper, yet some may ask questions as he allowed Aleksandar Kolarov’s power packed shot to win the game for Serbia. That judgement may have been harsh given the pace of the shot drilling towards the Ireland goal - 6

CYRUS CHRISTIE - Looked vulnerable at times when Serbia pushed forward and his passing accuracy was lacking once again, but his desire to fight for every ball was evident. He is still learning his trade on the international stage and it shows at times - 6

CIARAN CLARK - Clark looked assured once again at the heart of the defence and if Ireland are to move towards a rebuilding phase in the coming months, this Newcastle defender will play a key role in that plan - 7

SHANE DUFFY - Always a threat on set-pieces, Ireland didn’t use his height and positional awareness enough due to Robbie Brady’s poor delivery on free-kicks. He was a little ragged at times, but threw his body on the line when required - 7

STEPHEN WARD - Serbia’s attacking bursts were few and far between, but Ward held firm and gave his all to the cause as always. He was replaced in the second-half as Ireland were forced to push forward in search of goals - 6

DAVID MEYLER - Drafted into the starting line-up as O’Neill looked to add solidity to a more creative midfield, Meyler did a fine job until he was replaced in the second-half. He offered a platform for Hoolahan to work his magic, but it wasn’t enough in the final analysis - 7

ROBBIE BRADY - Ireland’s No.10 needed to offer more width and drifted in-field too often, where he did not have the kind of creative influence offered by Wes Hoolahan. Brady’s set-piece delivery was also disappointing and after his poor display in Georgia, this was not the response manager Martin O’Neill would have been hoping for - 6

JAMES McCLEAN - Bursting with energy from first to last, McClean lifted the Aviva Stadium crowd with hustling and passion. Some of his tackles were boarding on reckless and he was eventually booked, but Martin O’Neill knows he needs to take the rough with the smooth when it comes to this warrior - 7

WES HOOLAHAN - The calls for Hoolahan to be recalled to the Ireland starting line-up were loud and clear before kick-off and the Norwich man responded with a cultured display at the heart of the midfield. He bossed the midfield for long periods in the first-half and his incisive passing troubled the Serbs. Once again, Wes produced the goods - 8

JONATHAN WALTERS - He was clearly instructed to get closer to Shane Long after Ireland’s lead striker led a lonely battle against the Georgian defence on Saturday, but Walters lacked the kind of service he needs to thrive - 6

SHANE LONG - Long offered a threat in the first-half as Ireland got men into the attacking third to support him, with his movement and pace a concern to the Serbian defensive line. His tireless work rate is admirable despite the lack of quality service coming his way, but he is more than used to that diet playing in this Ireland team - 6

Substitutes: Daryl Murphy for Wes Hoolahan (62) - Made a difference with his leadership of the line, but lacks finishing power at the top level - 6

Callum O’Dowda for Ward (73) - Something of a surprise substitution by O'Neill and his impact was limited - 6

Hourinhane for Meyler (79) - A final throw of the dice of O'Neill and the youngster didn't have enough time to make his mark - 6

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