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‘The difference with them in is immense’ – Gavin Bazunu hails fans in battling Ireland display

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Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu claims possession during the World Cup qualifying Group A draw with Serbia at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo:y Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu claims possession during the World Cup qualifying Group A draw with Serbia at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo:y Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu claims possession during the World Cup qualifying Group A draw with Serbia at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo:y Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Teenage kicks delivered for Stephen Kenny as a superb display by 19-year-old goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu helped the Republic earn a 1-1 draw at home to Serbia.

An own goal by Nikola Milenkovic four minutes from time denied Serbia a 1-0 win, a great frustration to their manager Dragan Stojkovic with damage done to their hopes of World Cup qualification as Portugal, comfortable winners away to Azerbaijan, are two points clear.

Avoiding defeat has eased the pressure on Ireland manager Stephen Kenny, who now prepares for next month's trip to Baku to face bottom side Azerbaijan and the major takeaway for the Irish boss was the display of his fellow Tallaght native, keeper Bazunu, as well as defender Andrew Omobamidele, who looked at ease on his first competitive start at senior level.

Former Shamrock Rovers man Bazunu is on loan to League One side Portsmouth from Manchester City and his display, on a night when he repeatedly frustrated strikers Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic, has made him one of the most talked-about teenagers in football today.

"Andrew was unbelievable," said Bazunu of his fellow teenager.

"For my own case, I was delighted to be able to contribute. And it was great to have a crowd here. My first game here was without fans and the difference with them in is immense, it spurs you on."

Ireland’s new defensive hero Andrew Omobamidele asked the Irish public to keep faith with Stephen Kenny's side after their late fightback.

On the day that Dara O'Shea stated that he will be out for at least four months with an injury sustained on Ireland duty in Portugal last week, Kenny turned to Omobamidele - a surprise omission from the starting XI in the disappointing draw at home to Azerbaijan - for defensive cover, and the Leixlip lad delivered an accomplished display, one of Ireland's star performers alongside fellow teenager Bazunu.

A draw eases pressure on manager Kenny ahead of next month's trip to Azerbaijan and Omobamidele says the result points Ireland in the right direction.

"The nation has to try and keep faith in us," he told RTE. "Portugal had world class players, like Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes, and we went toe to toe with them.

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“This campaign has been disappointing, with the two draws and a loss, but we can take a lot from it.

"It's my first time playing in the Aviva with the crowd, it was nothing like I'd felt before, it gave you that extra bit of everything. It was my first time experiencing it and hopefully there is more to come."

The teenager even joked about his own goal effort late on which could have earned Ireland a dramatic winner. "I thought it was in, I was already taking off my jersey when it left my boot but their keeper made a good save," added the Norwich man.


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