Late Browne goal earns Kenny’s Ireland a draw against Belgium at the Aviva
Stephen Kenny's side managed a draw with Belgium

Late Browne goal earns Kenny’s Ireland a draw against Belgium at the Aviva

Chiedozie Ogbene and Alan Browne were amongst the goals at the Aviva Stadium earlier today as the Republic of Ireland men’s national team played out a 2-2 draw with Belgium in an entertaining international friendly.


The first of two run-outs for the side in the space of four days – Lithuania will arrive at the Ballsbridge venue on Tuesday – Tallaght native Stephen Kenny was hoping that his troops could hit the ground running in their first encounter of 2022.

The calibre of their opponents was a test of where Ireland are heading into the forthcoming Nations League, but the fine finishes delivered by Ogbene and Browne made it a very satisfactory outing in an overall context.

Firhouse native Gavin Bazunu was marked absent for the visit of the Red Devils to Lansdowne Road, but there were places on the bench for both Nathan Collins and Dara O’Shea.


Although a native of Leixlip, Stoke City defender Collins spent 10 years in the underage ranks of Cherry Orchard. O’Shea – a key figure for West Bromwich Albion – is a former student of Templeogue College and previously lined out for St Jude’s GAA club.


Despite travelling without several big-name players, there was considerable quality spread throughout the Belgian side. Former Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi was one such player and he edged the visitors in front when curling a shot beyond the reach of Caoimhin Kelleher in the 12th-minute.


This was the kind of start that Ireland were hoping to avoid, but they found themselves back on level terms with nine minutes remaining in the opening period. Ogbene has taken to international soccer like a duck to water and after a Callum Robinson delivery fell into this path, he unleashed an overhead kick that was deflected into the Belgian net.


This ensured the sides were inseparable at the break and with both teams expressing themselves in attack, there was the prospect of additional goals on the restart. The next score fell the way of the Belgians, however, as Hans Vanaken capitalised on some slack defending to edge the number one ranked team in world football back in front.


Kenny introduced a plethora of substitutes in a bid to continue their unbeaten run and one substitution in particular paid dividends. Cork man Alan Browne got Ireland’s first goal of their World Cup qualifier campaign against Serbia last year and his towering header with four minutes remaining ensured that Ireland came away with a share of the spoils.

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