It's two wins on the bounce for Stephen Kenny's Republic of Ireland who played with real verve at the Avia Stadium as they eased past Qatar 4-0. Here's how we rated the Irish players.
Caoimhin Kelleher - 6
A clean sheet for the home debutant and that's not to be scoffed at. For Ireland, it’s seven goals and none conceded in two games. Such stats shouldn’t be dismissed for a side that have been through some tough times in the last number of months. Whether Kelleher, who only had one routine cross to collect in the second half, will be first choice in years to come remains to be seen considering Gavin Bazunu’s emergence. This was not a night in which his ability to pass from the back was required as Ireland were constantly on the front foot around 40 yards further up the pitch.
Andrew Omobamidele - 7
Like Kelleher, he will have much bigger tests to come in his young career. Yet nights like this will all play a part. He was required to make one sliding tackle in the first half when it looked as if Qatar might manage a shot on goal, and he executed it without hesitation. He caught the eye against Serbia with his composure in possession and willingness to shot from distance, here it was about maintaining concentration with the rest of the defence. Mission accomplished.
Shane Duffy - 8
Even with a sold out reduced capacity of 25,000 in Aviva Stadium, there were times when you could still hear the Brighton centre back roar instructions. One of the most frequent was to let his fellow centre backs know when they had time to control a ball in the air so as to recycle possession and keep Ireland on the front foot. Capped off a captain’s performance with a fine header for the fourth goal.
John Egan - 7
He stepped into the play whenever he could, not just to get in front of the Qatari attackers and nip possession, but also to keep Ireland moving up the pitch and set moves in motion. Stephen Kenny made five changes to his starting XI, some enforced, some not, but it didn’t go unnoticed that he made sure not to break up the trio who have emerged as a solid unit at the heart of the defence. Egan’s qualities lie in being able to create as well as to the dirty stuff.
Matt Doherty - 7
His race was run at half time after suffering a knock around the half hour mark. He signalled to the bench to give it another five minutes and the decision was taken at the interval to take no risks. It was a shame because he was linking up really well with Jeff Hendrick and got to the byline on a few occasions to deliver crosses into the box.
Jeff Hendrick - 9
This was another sign that Hendrick is a player who might just re-emerge as an authoritative figure in the Ireland midfield, someone capable of being a positive influence with his ability to create but also dictate play. His vision and execution of the through pass for Callum Robinson’s hat-trick goal was pitch-perfect. He saw the run, weighed up the distance in an instant and delivered so that the forward didn’t have to break stride to complete the finish.
Conor Hourihane - 8
Stepped into the midfield for the injured Josh Cullen and had a most comfortable night. Notched up an assist with his out-swinging corner for Duffy’s goal and overall looked composed as part of a midfield pairing with Hendrick which had control for pretty much the entire game. There were moments when Qatar were able to break through the middle but that seemed to be more a case of Ireland’s dominance allowing them to play much further up the pitch than usual.
Enda Stevens - 7
Almost latched on to a pull back from the right in the last 10 minutes, an indication of the level of adventure Ireland showed throughout on a night when they were rarely troubled. Stevens, for a time, was seen as first choice in the left wing back role but that is no longer the case after a troublesome year with injury. He was one of five changes to the starting XI and he continually offered an outlet down his flank. He also took that quick throw to help start the move for the first goal.
Jamie McGrath - 8
His performance was imperious. Operating off the left side of attack, the former St Patrick’s Athletic star offered Ireland an extra body in midfield when required and continuously found the energy to support those in the final third. His touch, awareness and passing were all first class while his overall discipline and tactical awareness now looks to be a crucial component of this system going forward for the Ireland manager.
What a fantastic goal! Callum Robinson slides home to complete his hat-trick after a lovely Ireland move.— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) October 12, 2021
Personal computer https://t.co/ji74HIr1GO
Radio https://t.co/k385JrUVqr #RTEsoccer pic.twitter.com/fxedbnyqYw
Callum Robinson - 10
He was the hat-trick hero but you could also call him Ireland’s wandering star. He had a licence to roam in the attacking third, not to mention dropping deep to draw bodies towards him and leave space in behind. His first goal was fortuitous with a deflection – but you make your own luck – and the penalty was ruthless in its execution. The third was best of all, rounding off a superb move by latching on to Jeff Hendrick’s perfectly weighted pass.
Chiedozie Ogbene - 7
Almost capped his home debut with a first half goal, but his scuffed header from Robinson’s cross clipped the bar and fell to safety. He showed his prowess in the box with his goal in Baku and almost scored another header from a corner before the break only to direct it just wide. Some of his link up play could have been sharper but his pace was evident with a couple of breaks in the second half before he was replaced in the 69th minute.
Cyrus Christie for Matt Doherty (ht) - 6
Was given the same remit as Doherty to burrow forward and get crosses into the box from the byline. He did so well, linking well with Hendrick and Hourihane, not to mention Ogbene, before almost picking out Stevens with a pull back for a shot on goal towards the end.
Jason Knight for Ogbene (69) - 5
Kept the energy levels high in midfield.
Nathan Collins for Duffy (77) - 5
Slotted in for the captain but had little to do other than keep Ireland on front foot.
Troy Parrott for Robinsson (77) - 5
Made a couple of forceful runs but couldn’t create another opening.
Harry Arter for Hourihane (88) - Not on long enough to rate.
Nathan Collins for McGrath (88) - Not on long enough to rate.