Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2016 preparations were dented courtesy of a late equaliser by Netherlands, who pegged the hosts back to secure a 1-1 friendly draw in Dublin on Friday.
Manager Martin O’Neill has signalled he is close to finalising his 23-man squad for the tournament, where Ireland face Italy, Belgium and Sweden in a tough group, but his side looked vulnerable defensively despite leading for most of the game.
Ireland opened the scoring after 30 minutes, Shane Long reacting fastest to poke home after John O’Shea’s header from Robbie Brady’s corner was stopped.
Set-pieces caused defensive issues for the visitors all evening, with Brady’s whipped deliveries creating Ireland’s best opportunities to score.
But Danny Blind’s team, who did not qualify for Euro 2016, scored a late equaliser when Luuk de Jong found space in the box to nod in a fine Jetro Willems cross.
Long’s work-rate and knack for a key goal – his 16th for his country – looks to have sealed his place up front for Ireland in place of the country’s record goalscorer Robbie Keane.
Netherlands dominated possession in the early exchanges, but Harry Arter’s deflected shot forced Jasper Cillessen into the first save of the game after 17 minutes.
And just before the half-hour mark, Ireland showed off their set-piece prowess with a scrappy opening goal.
O’Shea’s powerful header was blocked on the line, but Long was on hand to bundle in from close range.
Netherlands reacted well and Quincy Promes went close to scoring the equaliser after 38 minutes, but he could not stretch enough to get the vital touch on a Memphis Depay cross.
Another dangerous Brady set-piece caused mayhem in the Netherlands box shortly after half-time, but Jon Walters’ header was comfortably saved by Cillessen.
Shane Duffy then headed a Brady corner over the crossbar after beating Jeffrey Bruma in the air, before Netherlands debutant Steven Berghuis hit a free-kick narrowly off-target.
Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph was called into meaningful action for the first time after 68 minutes, bending to save a header by Vincent Janssen, who should have done better.
Substitute Bas Dost got above O’Shea after 77 minutes, but headed wide of Randolph’s near post as Netherlands briefly threatened and the hosts looked uncomfortable at the back.
The relentless Brady teed up Duffy again, but the centre-back could only put his header wide of the post and that miss proved costly as Netherlands equalised with five minutes to go.
Willems’ cross was perfectly placed and De Jong lost Duffy in the box to head home past the helpless Randolph. Eunan O’Kane almost forced in a late winner, only to be denied by Cillessen.
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