Thursday 26 April 2018

Here is how the Irish players rated in tonight's World Cup qualifier

Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Ireland's scrambled a 2-2 draw against Serbia in their opening World Cup qualifier and here is how we rated Martin O'Neill's men:

Darren Randolph - A fine first half save preserved Ireland’s lead going into the break, but he didn’t always look secure in what were horrible, damp conditions for a keeper. He was helpless to keep out the Serbia goal after some woeful defending, but did not fill his defenders with confidence as he fumbled the ball too often and was fortunate to get away with a couple of glaring errors - 6

Read more: Ireland's negative mindset is damaging their ambitions: The good, the bad and the ugly of the draw in Serbia

Seamus Coleman - Struggled to get forward from his right-back berth to try and support the Ireland attack and relieve the pressure on an Irish defence that was pinned back for long periods. Coleman has earned the right to be Ireland captain and he needs to confirm he can lead from the front in these qualifiers - 6

John O'Shea - The veteran defender could have done more in the build-up to the Serbia equaliser and unless he is getting regular first team football at Sunderland, it is hard to imagine O’Shea will still be a first pick for Ireland by the time the World Cup qualifying push reaches a decisive phase next year - 5

Richard Keogh - Ireland boss Martin O’Neill has huge faith in this hard working centre-back and he makes up for his technical deficiencies with his driving desire. Ireland made a conscious effort to try and play out from the back for much of this game and Keogh may not be the best candidate to fill such a role - 6

Stephen Ward - Playing regular Premier League football once again, but his critics will argue he lacks the quality to make a mark at international level. Ward struggles to make his mark going forward and gave away a few unnecessary free-kicks in dangerous areas -

Read more: Daryl Murphy breaks his international duck to rescue a precious point for Ireland in Belgrade

Jeff Hendrick - His early goal gave Ireland hope of a rare away day success in a qualifier, but Hendrick struggled to stamp his authority on a game that was played on a rain-sodden pitch. His passing abilities were not evident as this game slipped away from Ireland - 5

Glenn Whelan - No Ireland team is complete without Whelan (according to the numerous managers who continue to pick him), but his one-paced lack of invention continues to be a roadblock to progress for an Ireland team that need to find a way of accommodating the more inventive Harry Arter in the line-up - 5

Robbie Brady - Some decent set-pieces aside, Brady failed to make his mark in his more advanced midfield role on a night when he made his first start in the Ireland No.10 shirt that has been owned by Robbie Keane for so long. Martin O’Neill relies too heavily on Brady and he still looked to be Ireland's most likely match-winner in Belgrade - 7

Jon Walters - A big loss to the Ireland team at Euro 2016, Walters looked off the pace as he started in an attacking role behind Shane Long. A lack of first team action at Stoke may be a big issue for Ireland moving forward, with Walters failing to shine in the Belgrade rain - 5

Shane Long - Ireland’s lead striker is not getting the service he needs to thrive and after his less than enjoyable and often lonely experience as lead striker at Euro 2016, he was back in a familiar role once again as he chased lost causes aplenty against Serbia. If Ireland are to get the best out of Long, he needs more balls over the top of defenders to use his blistering pace. Missed a big chance before Murphy's equaliser - 5

James McClean - Supporters of McClean are always keen to promote his cause to be a starter in the Ireland team, but this was another limp performance from the West Bromwich Albion maverick. He needs to produce more for club and country - 5


Stephen Quinn - A somewhat unimaginative replacement for Stephen Ward, Quinn struggled to make his mark - 5

Daryl Murphy - Made a difference as he gave Ireland’s attack a focal point and his goal was priceless. Shane Long needs genuine support and Murphy may be the best option right now - 6

Online Editors

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