2018 WC Qualifier: Ireland v Serbia

O'Neill's men welcome the Group D leaders to Dublin as they look to bounce back from Tbilisi draw

Patrick Madden Tue, Sep 5
LIVE: 2018 WC Qualifier: Ireland v Serbia

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  • Good evening!

    Welcome to our coverage of Ireland's crunch World Cup qualifier against Serbia at the Aviva Stadium.

    Having put themselves in a great position to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Saturday's slip-up in Georgia means Ireland are now on the ropes and in desperate need of a result against the Group D leaders.

    The performance in Tbilisi was one of the worst of the Martin O'Neill era - but a win tonight can steady the ship and steer the boys in green back on course towards Russia.

    We'll be bringing you all the action from Dublin - as well as keeping you up to date with the night's other qualifiers.

    Here's to a good one - after all, things can only get better.

    Come on!!!

  • TEAM NEWS:  

    Ireland: Darren Randolph, Cyrus Christie, Ciaran Clark, Shane Duffy, Stephen Ward, David Meyler, Robbie Brady, Wes Hoolahan, Jon Walters (c), James McClean, Shane Long.

    Serbia: Vladimir Stojković (GK), Jagoš Vuković, Nikola Maksimović, Branislav Ivanović (C), Antonio Rukavina, Aleksandar Kolarov, Luka Milivojević, Nemanja Matić, Dušan Tadić, Filip Kostić, Aleksandar Mitrović

  • Martin O'Neill has decided to twist tonight after the horrow-show in Georgia. Glenn Whelan and Harry Arter were virtually non-existant in Tbilisi - and they've both paid the price, with O'Neill dropping the midfield duo tonight.

    In their place David Meyler starts in the middle - while a recall for Wes Hoolahan will be well received by supporters. Robbie Brady is likely to form a midfield three with Meyler and Hoolahan - who will play further forward.

    Aside from that, Ireland are unchanged tonight. Shane Long leads the line with Jon Walters and James McClean playing wide.

  • Here's the latest Group D table, courtesy of the Welsh...
  • Martin O'Neill on his team selection: "They're all difficult decisions, the players have done magnificently well for me in the last three years. . . sometimes you need to re-energise the side like we did against Italy in France."

    With an increased 24 teams taking part, last summer's European Championships was a relative free-for-all - with a third place finish in qualification enough to guarantee at least a playoff.

    Securing a place in next year's World Cup is more difficult however - and with one second placed side set to miss out on a playoff, the qualification picture is still quite murky.

    As is stands, second place Ireland would sneak into a playoff - but that stands to change tonight. You can read the current permutations HERE.

  • Good news elsewhere - Ireland Under-21s have beaten Azerbaijan 3-1.
  • That's the Wales team taking on Moldova in Chisinau tonight. Chris Coleman's side can move into second place tonight should they win and Ireland fail to do so.  
  • It's exactly a year since Ireland and Serbia last met - with Daryl Murphy snatching a point for the visitors late on in Belgrade. Since that opening qualification game the Serbs have stayed unbeaten, and they're two points clear in Group D.

    The visiting side is littered with familiar faces - Meyler and co will have their work cut out in the middle against Manchester United's summer signing Nemanja Matic.

  • An idea of how both sides will set up.
  • Here come the teams at the Aviva.
  • Anthems done, looks near enough a full house.
  • Nearly there - a minute's applause first.

    We're underway!

  • 1 min: Ireland's early shape suggests they're playing two up top - Walters and Long - with McClean tucking into a midfield diamond. Could offer plenty of space for Serbia's wingbacks.
  • 2 min: Early chance for Serbia. Good play on the right and Rukavina squares - Meyler reads it but his touch is poor and Serbia win it back in the box. It's laid back for Matic on the edge, and his effort is brilliantly blocked by a flying Duffy.
  • 3 min: Soft foul from Ivanovic, clattering through the back of Long on half way. Ireland take it quickly with Walters haring down the inside left channel but the pass is too strong for him. Perhaps early signs of a better intensity from the hosts.
  • Georgia have gone 1-0 up in Austria.
  • 6 min: Matic plays a return ball to Rukavina who is caught very late by McClean - gets away without a booking. Free kick in a good spot for Serbia on the right - Duffy turns Tadic's dangerous ball behind but the visitors waste the resulting corner.
  • 9 min: First glimpse of why Hoolahan was picked - he makes a loose Serbian clearance stick and moves it right where Christie bursts into the box - it's cleared for a throw and then for a corner.


    Duffy gets onto Brady's cross and heads home but he's a yard off. Lansdowne erupted.

  • 11 min: Yikes -  Milivojević tests his goalkeeper with an overcooked backpass but Stojkovic deals with it well. Serbia are yet to settle on the ball - it's nothing sophisticated from Ireland but they're making life diffucult thus far.
  • 14 min:  Milivojević with a corner from the right, Duffy clears. Serbia come again but Randolph gathers well.  
  • 15 min: McClean tries one from miles out and earns Ireland a fortuitous corner. Brady whips it in -  Stojković is out well to punch.  
  • 17 min: Tadic gets in space but excellent tracking from Hoolahan sees him win it back. Moments later the ball drops for him in the pocket and he tries to slide in Walters but overcooks it. He's definitely added some impetus to Ireland's play.
  • 20 min: The best football Ireland have played in this international window. Ireland crowd Serbia out and break at pace - a cute ball from Hoolahan releasing McClean who finds Walters. Walters plays a good ball down the channel for Long who wins the foot race and cuts inside before stinging  Stojković's finger tips with a rising effort. Much, much better.

  • 21 min: Serbia have a free kick on the left after Brady fouls Matic, but it doesn't beat the first man.
  • 23 min: Good one-two in midfield releases Christie and his ball in ricochets in the box, nearly dropping for a despairing Hoolahan. This is far removed from Tbilisi.
  • 27 min: McClean needs to be careful here - he rushes out and catches  Milivojević late. Nothing malicious but pretty clumsy. The free kick is miles out and Kolarov tries to surprise Randolph at his near post but fizzes it wide.
  • 29 min: This has been pretty frenetic stuff and the game is still yet to settle properly in the middle - Ireland won't mind that. Neither side have really dominated in terms of possession or territory.
  • 31 min: Long gets an arm in the back from  Maksimović and Ireland have a free kick just outside the box on the left. Brady's outswinger is cleared comfortably enough by Serbia.
  • 32 min: Out of nowhere Serbia unlock Ireland and nearly get the opener. Neat football sees Tadic slip through Kostic and he cuts it back from the byline to Mitrovic, whose scuffed low effort is clawed away by Randolph. Warning for Ireland.
  • 35 min: Great run from Hoolahan and Brady finds him in the box with a neat ball, but he can't scheme his way round Vukovic.  McClean then dummies and crosses with his right but Serbia clear.  
  • 37 min: Ireland lose it and Serbia break at pace - Mitrovic turns it round the corner to Kostic who bursts forward but is well tackled by Meyler, who shows great compusure with a nutmeg in the corner and clears upfield. Meyler isn't a world beater on the ball but he's been a disruptive influence off it.
  • 41 min: Mitrovic runs it wide and wins a corner off Meyler, who was tracking well again. It's pulled back to Kolarov on the edge and his low shot is hacked clear.
  • Austria have levelled things up against Georgia.
  • 43 min: Neat play from Matic into Kostic but Duffy reads it well and nips it away. Aside from the Mitrovic chance, Serbia have been largely frustrated so far.
  • Elsewhere, Wales and Moldova are drawing 0-0 at HT.
  • The teams are back out for the second half.
  • We're back underway!!!!
  • 46 min: An early wake up for Ireland. The ball is played inside to Mitrovic and he is too strong for club mate Clark who sells himself and the ball falls for Tadic, whose shot is straight at Randolph. Should have done better.
  • 49 min: Good pressure from Walters on Maksimovic, who plays the ball behind for a needless Ireland corner. Vukovic clears Brady's delivery and his second ball, this time off his right, is just beyond Long.  
  • 50 min: Long has drawn a number of fouls tonight - Vukovic the latest man to send him to the turf and then complain about the free kick. Duffy gets on Brady's long set piece and loops the header towards Walters but Serbia easily clear. It's raining.
  • 52 min: Brady nearly finds Long in the box but Ivanovic reads it well - unlucky. Late reducer on Ward by Rukovina, who gets the game's first booking. It's been a positive start to the second half from Ireland, they're aren't slowing down just yet.


  • The first bit of sustained Serbian pressure inside the final third and it leads to a goal. Tadic is involved on the right and he squares the ball to Kostic on the edge. He e finds Kolarov on the outside shoulder and he absolutely rockets the ball in off the bar from the edge. Huge moment.


  • 58 min: Good play from Ward, getting in ahead of Rukovina and bursting down the left - but he can't follow up with a good cross. Meyler goes through Tadic, who makes a meal of it - but avoids a yellow.
  • 61 min: First sub for Ireland - Daryl Murphy on for Hoolahan, who had started to fade out of the game a bit.
  • 63 min: Serbia looking to retain the ball and take the sting out of things but Ireland continuing to press well - McClean breaks up play twice but on both occasions it falls nicely for a red shirt.
  • 65 min: It's gone a bit flat now. Brady nearly picks out Murphy in the middle but his ball is just too big. Moments later he crosses low to the near post and Walters can't get much purchase on it.

    Wales are still deadlocked in Moldova.


  • 69 min: Lifeline for Ireland. A long ball isn't dealt with by Vukovic - Murphy runs onto the loose ball and is brought down by Maksimovic who is given his marching orders.  

    Very dangerous free kick for Ireland - in perfect Brady territory... hits the wall.

  • 70 min: The red card seems to have sparked Serbia into life again. Good play and a one-two nearly puts Kolarov through in the box.

    Sub for Ireland, Callum O'Dowda on for Ward.

  • 73 min: Ireland pressing. Christie's cross is closed down but the ball drops beautifully for Meyler on the edge - but he slices his left-footed half volley well wide.

    Booking for McClean after a late challenge on Kolarov, he's out of the Moldova game.

  • 74 min: Good ball down the left for Long who holds it up well and finds McClean in the middle - but his effort is wild and way, way over.
  • 76 min: Huge penalty shout for Ireland. O'Dowda is released on the left and cuts back inside. His cross is towards Murphy but he's muscled out of it by Vukovic. Ireland claim he was fouled - and replays show they might have had a point. Christie blazes over following up.
  • 78 min: Ireland have the momentum here but so far they have lacked that killer touch.

    Big goal in Moldova - Hal Robson-Kanu has put Wales in the lead.

  • 80 min: Conor Hourihane is on for David Meyler.
  • 81 min: Brady swings in a free kick from the right and Serbia flick it clear, but Ireland have a throw near the byline. Mitrovic and Tadic have both been replaced now - Serbia looking to consolidate.
  • 82 min: A long Christie throw causes brief panic in the Serbia box but Clark is penalised for a high foot on Rukavina.
  • 84 min: Ireland dominating possession - but they are yet to work goalkeeper Stojkovic. Neat play between Christie but the full back drags his shot into the side-netting after cutting back onto his weaker left - with countless green shirts in the box.
  • 86 min: Serbia briefly down to nine men as Vukovic gets treatment. Ward hoofs it up towards Murphy who sees his first effort from the edge blocked, and then forces a smart save out of Stojkovic with a snap-shot on the rebound.
  • 88 min: Serbia sitting very deep now. They have it after a poor cross from Christie but McClean wins the ball back and is fouled. It would be in a perfect position for Brady but the referee plays the advantage and Hourihane drags the shot well wide.
  • 90 min: Angled ball from McClean is nodded down to Hourihane - but he screws his effort well wide.
  • 92 min: Duffy now playing as an auxilary forward. Surging run inside from Christie but it won't open up for him and then McClean shoots well over again. Ireland's composure has been poor.
  • Wales now winning 2-0 in Moldova.
  • 95 min: Ireland have a late corner after Christie's cross is turned behind. Randolph is up - last chance...

    It's headed over.

  • Thanks for joining tonight, Emmet Malone's match report is now live.