Luton attacker starts for Ireland in a stalemate that Belgium boss declares as 'boring'

Ogbene puts a great early chance into the side-netting
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Luton attacker Chiedozie Ogbene started for the Republic of Ireland as they played out a goalless draw with Belgium in their international friendly at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

The hosts, who are under the caretaker stewardship of former Manchester United defender John O’Shea, made a strong start to the contest, Sammie Szmodics sending the Town winger away as he went one-on-one with Red Devils keeper Matz Sels, named ahead of Town keeper Thomas Kaminski, only to fire into the side-netting. Belgium then threatened too, Leandro Trossard beating his man twice to cross for Yuri Tielemans to head wide

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Ireland were awarded a penalty midway through the first half when Josh O’Shea's flick was handled in the area by Arthur Vermeeren, Brighton forward Evan Ferguson’s attempt comfortably saved by Sels. Ogbene threatened again, off target with a low drive, before Johan Bakayoko drove over the top. After the break, Ferguson had another header that flew over the bar, with home stopper Caoimhín Kelleher denying Lois Openda.

Ogbene had another attempt drop off target from Robbie Brady’s cross, before he combined with Will Smallbone to set up Szmodics whose attempt was blocked by the visiting defence. The Town forward made way for Jason Knight with 20 minutes to go, as late on, Kelleher saved excellently from Thomas Meunier, as the game finished in a stalemate.

Speaking afterwards, an unimpressed Belgium boss Domenico Tedesco said: “It was a boring game. Not a good one from both sides. Not many chances. There was no rhythm, the passes were slow and there was no sharpness. It looked like a summer friendly.”

Irish boss O’Shea disagreed though, adding: “We had the best chances. When you saw the chances we created early on, big chances, it was exactly what we had worked on, to be compact and aggressive. It was a shame we didn't get the rewards in that sense from that first-half, that was the big thing for me. It's a frustrating one. You appreciate Belgium had a decent bit of possession but we felt beforehand we wouldn't mind that.

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“We knew the damage we could create against them on the break. If we take those chances when they arrive in the game, it would open up Belgium and we could exploit it even more. So it’s frustrating in that sense. Yes, you're playing Belgium in Dublin and you would take a clean sheet, but I’m a little bit disappointed in the end too.” Ogbene will now be looking to win his 21st cap for Ireland when hosting Switzerland on Tuesday night.