Saturday 15 December 2018

Mixed feelings for Martin O'Neill as O'Brien's debut goal is cancelled out by late Polish strike

11 September 2018; Aiden O'Brien of Republic of Ireland scores his side's first goal during the International Friendly match between Poland and Republic of Ireland at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw, Poland. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
11 September 2018; Aiden O'Brien of Republic of Ireland scores his side's first goal during the International Friendly match between Poland and Republic of Ireland at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw, Poland. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Ireland were held to a 1-1 draw against Poland in Wroclaw after Aiden O'Brien's debut goal was cancelled out by a late strike from Mateusz Klich.

Martin O'Neill handed O'Brien his Ireland debut as he made six changes from the 4-1 defeat to Wales last Thursday night. The Millwall frontman was included in a side in which Enda Stevens and Shaun Williams made first starts with the trio, along with Kevin Long, John Egan and Richard Keogh, replacing Seamus Coleman, Stephen Ward, Ciaran Clark, Shane Duffy, Conor Hourihane and Jonathan Walters.

The game was 35 minutes old before either keeper had a save of note to make despite a bright start as a well-organised Ireland closed down space and made life difficult for the Poles.

It was Darren Randolph who was first to be called upon, but he had little difficulty in fielding Arkadiusz Milik's long-range effort as the frontman attempted to atone for heading wide with the goal at his mercy earlier in the half.

As the half-time whistle sounded, the game remained goalless with Poland having enjoyed the better openings, but there was plenty with which O'Neill could be satisfied.

Callum O'Dowda mustered Ireland's first attempt of note within four minutes of the restart.

The 23-year-old embarked upon a determined surge into enemy territory and exchanged passes with wing-back Cyrus Christie before drilling a shot into Szczesny's waiting arms.

But the visitors took the lead four minutes later when O'Brien marked his debut with a goal, meeting O'Dowda's cross unopposed to head past the helpless Szczesny.

Poland forced their way back into the game with just three minutes remaining.

Substitute Mateusz Klich played a neat one-two on the edge of the box and clipped the ball past Randolph to make it 1-1.

Klich's intervention proved to be the last notable action as the game finished 1-1, leaving O'Neill's men with decidedly mixed feelings.

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