The Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands played out a competitive 1-1 draw in tonight’s International Friendly match at the Aviva Stadium with Shane Long giving Ireland a first half lead, before PSV striker Luuk De Jong drew the Dutch level five minutes from time.
The Dutch held the more meaningful possession during quite a forgettable opening ten minutes. Memphis Depay and Quincy Promes offered them width from the flanks while Kevin Strootman patrolled the centre circle with vigour, acting as the catalyst for the visiting side’s high possession count early on.
The first opportunity for the home side unsurprisingly came on the counter attack. Memphis Depay surrendered possession cheaply on the half-way line allowing Stephen Quinn to break free down the right, however, his cross was uninspiring and looped over Jon Walters at the back post. Harry Arter then had an effort deflected into the Dutch ‘keeper Cillessen’s arms as Ireland enjoyed an encouraging spell in attack.
Shane Long gave Ireland the lead on the half-hour mark, much to the delight of the boisterous home following. David McGoldrick dropped into midfield and placed a superb ball over the top which saw Seamus Coleman win a corner. Robbie Brady delivered a typically enticing corner-kick as a result, which was emphatically met by skipper John O’Shea as Cillessen acrobatically saved, only for the fox in the box, Long to nod home.
An interesting aspect of Ireland’s forward set-up was that the front six with the exception of Glenn Whelan and Shane Long, were interchanging meaning that they were very elusive for the lethargic Dutch midfield trio to marshal.
The Netherlands threatened an equaliser seven minutes before the interval. Memphis generated a yard for himself up against Coleman down the left flank, before cutting in on his natural right foot and firing a wicked ball which evaded everyone, including its intended target Vincent Janssen.
Although, the Dutch looked slick and intricate in possession, they were consistently failing to penetrate a stubborn Irish defence, and on the rare occasions that they did, their final ball was lacking direction. Ireland on the other hand would have been very happy with their opening half performance.
Out of possession, they looked solid and with the ball they created a myriad of opportunities to test the visiting ‘keeper and defence as Martin O’Neill’s men took a slender single goal lead into the break.
Ireland could have extended their advantage four minutes after the re-start. Stephen Quinn won a rather kind free-kick from referee Artur Dias, which Brady served up for Duffy to meet, but Jeffrey Bruma prevented his effort from reaching Cillessen as Walters prodded the rebound wide.
The home side continued to press. Brady delivered another superb ball into the box which ricocheted off Jeffrey Bruma and fortunately for the PSV defender, it went off target. From the corner, Duffy’s incredible leap saw him make a solid connection but his header rose well over. It was ten minutes into the second period and the Netherlands were still to emerge from their half time slumber.
As the supporters paraded a prolonged Mexican Wave around the Aviva Stadium, the Dutch nearly equalised twenty minutes from full-time with their first shot on target. Left-back Jetro Willems was afforded too much time to whip a ball into the Darren Randolph’s six-yard area. The quiet Vincent Janssen stole in at the back post, but his weak effort was gathered low by West Ham’s Irish goalkeeper.
Complacency may have been setting in for O’Neill’s men, Randolph’s poor kick moments later deflected off the onrushing Janssen, but went off target to the assumable relief of the ‘keeper.
The game was error-ridden for much of the second half, meaning the supporters had to create their own entertainment for large parts of a disappointing second period, hence the Mexican Wave.
Ireland did almost extend their advantage in the 80th minute though as Duffy met a Brady corner for the umpteenth time. His delicate header looked poised to find the far corner as Cillessen stood rooted, but it evaded the far post by a width and sailed wide.
The Dutch did finally manage to grab an equaliser five minutes from the end. Seamus Coleman failed to fully engage Quincy Promes out wide. The pacey wide man then laid it back for his supporting left-back Willems, who calmly crossed in an incisive ball for Luuk De Jong to head past Randolph from six yards.
Ireland pressed for a winner for the remainder of the match with Eunan O’Kane, on to replace his Bournemouth colleague Harry Arter, finding space in the area, but he hesitated at the vital moment allowing the Dutch to scramble and his weak shot was easily gathered by Cillessen.
The game petered out to a 1-1 finish and Ireland manager Martin O’Neill will be happy at being able to use 16 players ahead of Tuesday’s friendly with Belarus, while also avoiding any fresh injury concerns.
Republic of Ireland: Darren Randolph; Seamus Coleman, John O’Shea ©, Shane Duffy, Robbie Brady; Harry Arter (Eunan O’Kane 82), Glenn Whelan (Darron Gibson 66), Stephen Quinn (Jeff Hendrick 66); Jonathan Walters, Shane Long (James McClean 66), David McGoldrick (Wes Hoolahan 76).
Subs not used: Shay Given (gk), Gary Rogers (gk), Richard Keogh, Aiden McGeady, Robbie Keane, Cyrus Christie, Stephen Ward, Daryl Murphy, Callum O’Dowda.
Booked: Harry Arter (40)
Netherlands: Jaspar Cillessen; Joel Veltman, Jeffrey Bruma, Virgil Van Dijk, Jetro Willems; Quincy Promes, Georginio Wijnaldum (Luuk De Jong 82), Kevin Strootman © (Marco Van Ginkel 69), Riechedly Bazoer, Memphis Depay (Steven Berghuis 60); Vincent Janssen (Bas Dost 75).
Subs not used: Jeroen Zoet (gk), Kenneth Vermeer (gk), Kenny Tete, Ron Vlaar, Patrick Van Aanholt, Luciano Narsingh, Tonny Vilhena.
Referee: Artur Manuel Ribeiro Soares Dias (Portugal)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Robbie Brady (Republic of Ireland)