Gerson Rodrigues scored the only goal of the game after 85 minutes
Hopes for the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup qualification were hit hard when they collapsed to a disastrous 1-0 home loss to Luxembourg.
From a distance, Gerson Rodrigues scored a brilliant 85th-minute winner for the visitors.
James Collins missed the Republic’s clearest chance after 18 minutes. Alan Browne headed on 54.
The result leaves the Republic at the end of Group A and already without a point from two games on the hindfoot.
The Irish cause was not supported by Serbia, who bounced back from 2-0 deficit and saved a 2-2 draw with group favorites Portugal.
After losing to Serbia, the republic was under pressure to take three points at home against a team 56 places below them. On paper, this seemed like their greatest chance of scooping a first victory under Stephen Kenny.
Instead, it turned out to be one of the worst defeats in republic history as the manager has skipped 10 games without a win since his appointment last year.
After a strong start to the game against Serbia, where they took the lead on 18 minutes, it took the Republic longer to find their way on a stormy evening in Dublin as Luxembourg counterattacked their skills, mainly through the formidable Vincent Thill, who tested Gavin Bazunu early with a left-footed shot after cutting in from the right flank.
The republic should have taken the lead in the 18th minute at the end of a move that was similar to the attack sequence that kicked off the start in Belgrade on Wednesday.
Enda Stevens found Callum Robinson on the left as he passed Marvin Martins and crossed to James Collins, who aimed his hand-to-hand combat directly at Luxembourg goalkeeper Anthony Moris.
Although this step did not bring the first goal, it meant a prolonged phase of possession for the Irish without ever really having a clear chance behind the defense of the away team.
Robbie Brady’s half-time lead for Matt Doherty, who sustained an injury, helped change that when the Burnley winger sped left within a minute of the restart before failing to track down Collins.
Brady then delivered an accurate free-kick to Alan Browne, who missed his header, and Collins almost atoned for his earlier miss when his overhead kick after a Brady cross shot just wide from the right.
Robinson threw a shot over from an acute angle on a night when the Republic only scored three shots on goal.
Bazunu impresses on debut
Kenny’s line-up showed three changes from Wednesday’s Belgrade defeat when Derby County’s skipper Jason Knight was moved into midfield. James Collins was rewarded with a spot ahead of the injured Aaron Connolly for his scoring against Serbia.
The Republican manager’s biggest pick, however, was undoubtedly the debut of teen goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, who was four months old when the Irish last played at the World Cup in 2002. Mark Travers dropped out.
Kenny praised the Rochdale stopper’s distribution skills in his pre-game comments, and Bazunu did the math with the former Shamrock Rovers man who sprayed passes left and right – his chip to Matt Doherty started the train, which in Collins’ Chance culminated – while showing confidence to instruct his defenders.
The young Dubliner was answering the biggest question the visitors had asked in the first half as he hastily shuffled back to his line to keep Gerson Rodrigues’ bold lob from afar. They did so when Travers failed against Serbia and the Bournemouth goalkeeper was chipped by Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Bazunu was also good at keeping Vincent Thill out in the second half after the 21-year-old battled his way through a series of half-hearted Irish tackles.
And while defeating Rodrigues in the first half, there was nothing Bazunu could do about the Dynamo Kiev man’s croaking right footed ride that flew to the bottom corner to turn a frustrating night into a disastrous one for the Republic, and that The result was likely to trigger a period of soul searching within the emptied Irish camp.
The republic will close the international window against World Cup hosts Qatar in a friendly match in the Hungarian city of Debrecen on Tuesday (19:30 BST).
R. of Ireland
- 5ClarkReplaced byMcCleanat the 61 ‘protocol
- 7thDohertyReplaced byBradyat the 45 ‘protocol
- 17thCullenBooked at 80 minutesReplaced byMolumbyat the 88 ‘protocol
- 3StevensBooked at 53 minutes
- 9CollinsReplaced byParrottat the 88 ‘protocol
- 12thRobinsonReplaced byLongat the 73 ‘protocol
22ndMartins da Graça2Chanot3Mahmutovic18thJans
- 22ndMartins da Graça
- 18thJansBooked at 58 minutes
- 8thMartins Pereira
- 11ThillReplaced byDevilleat the 79 ‘protocol
- 15thThillBooked at 13 minutes
- 16Barreiro Martins
- 9SinanBooked at 53 minutesReplaced byGersonat the 90 + 2 ‘protocol
End of the game, Republic of Ireland 0, Luxembourg 1.
The second half ends with Republic of Ireland 0, Luxembourg 1.
Attempt saved. Shane Long (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the lower right corner.
Substitution, Luxembourg. Lars Gerson replaces Danel Sinani.
Away from the Republic of Ireland. Enda Stevens attempts a pass, but Troy Parrott is caught offside.
Missed attempt. Jayson Molumby (Republic of Ireland) has a high and far left header from the center of the box. Assisted by Séamus Coleman with a cross.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Troy Parrott replaces James Collins.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Jayson Molumby replaces Josh Cullen.
Foul by James Collins (Republic of Ireland).
Anthony Moris (Luxembourg) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Republic of Ireland. The corner was caused by Gerson Rodrigues.
Gate! Republic of Ireland 0, Luxembourg 1. Gerson Rodrigues (Luxembourg) right footed shot from outside the box in the lower left corner.
Foul by Shane Long (Republic of Ireland).
Maxime Chanot (Luxembourg) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Handball by Shane Long (Republic of Ireland).
Séamus Coleman (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Maurice Deville (Luxembourg).
Josh Cullen (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Christopher Martins Pereira (Luxembourg).
Corner of Luxembourg. The corner was caused by Jason Knight.