Thursday 12 December 2019

Wes Hoolahan in focus

Norwich midfielder Wes Hoolahan had hoped to provide the link between Shane Long in attack and the rest of the Irish midfield, but along with his team-mates was too often chasing shadows in a 3-0 defeat to Belgium which puts the Republic of Ireland's future at Euro 2016 in peril.

Here Press Association Sport looks at his performance.


Could not be faulted in this respect, and nor really could any other Irish player as Belgium dominated possession. Tracked back as required but too often that left Shane Long totally isolated up front. Even headed one Belgian effort off the goal line.


Hoolahan at his best can dictate play and keep Ireland ticking, but this never felt like a game built for him from the very beginning. Too often Ireland kicked the ball long to Long, often bypassing the Canaries man. He saw more of the ball and had a little more support when Ireland were obliged to press forward after the first Belgian goal, but still to little effect and was substituted after 70 minutes.


UEFA's statistics showed that he had a 79 per cent pass completion rate, but Hoolahan was unable to provide any telling forward balls in this match.


No clear-cut chances for Hoolahan but he should have made more of one opportunity when Long was able to knock down a high ball into his path midway through the first half. It was a rare example of the pair managing to link up but he was unable to get a shot away or keep the move alive as he was closed down by Toby Alderweireld.

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