Gary Connaughton reporting from the Aviva Stadium for Ireland v Lithuania
Ireland dominated from start to finish against Lithuania, although a lack of cutting edge up front looked like it would would cost them dearly on this occasion.
Step forward Troy Parrott.
On what could have been a disappointing outing for Stephen Kenny’s side, the 20-year old stepped up to win it with a stunner late on to cap off what was a massively impressive cameo.
Here’s how we rated the Irish performances for Ireland v Lithuania.
Ireland v Lithuania: Ireland player ratings
Caoimhín Kelleher – 6
Completely untested, Kelleher spent most of the first half as the only player in the Irish half as his team dominated the ball.
His only real contributions came on the occasions the ball was played back to him by the defence.
Nathan Collins – 7
Making his first start at senior international level, the first thing that stand out when seeing Collins is his physicallity. However, he is certainly not lacking in footballing ability, stepping out of the defence with the ball on a number of occasions in the opening 45 minutes.
Ona night where Ireland had little defending to do, he was the centre back that offered the most going forward. One of the few fringe players to put their hand up for selection moving forward.
John Egan – 7
Tasked with marshalling an inexperienced back three, Egan was barely tested in the first half. That continued throughout the game, with the Cork man’s switch to the centre of the back three meaning we did not see him venture forward as often as we have become accustomed to in recent games.
Came close to winning it for Ireland with a header late on before Parrott’s strike.
Dara O’Shea – 6
O’Shea had very little defending to do for much of the game, although he did impress in possession when given the opportunity.
He was replaced by James McClean just after the hour mark.
Matt Doherty – 8
Doherty got on plenty of ball in the opening period of Ireland v Lithuania, although not quite in the threatening areas that he would have hoped for. That changed in the second half, with the Spurs man desperately unlucky not to score after a brilliant solo run only to see his shot saved just before the hour mark.
Could have won it in injury time, although his volleyed effort was a tough skill to execute. He was Ireland’s biggest attacking threat and probably their best player on the night, at least until Parrott’s introduction.
Ryan Manning – 6
More than willing to pull the trigger from outside the box when presented with the opportunity. Manning put in some brilliant crosses from the left at times, although they couldn’t quite find their target.
Moved into the back three for much of the second half after McClean’s introduction, quelling his attacking threat.
Conor Hourihane – 5
He was not shy in showing for the ball in midfield, although he often failed to produce the type of incisive forward passing you would have hoped for when he did receive it.
He was unlucky to have his goal ruled out at the start of the second half, although you could see why the decision was given after the Lithuanian goalkeeper had his view of the shot blocked. Ireland needed more from Hourihane going forward.
Alan Browne – 6
Needed to show more for the ball in the opening period, not really getting involved in Ireland’s buildup play. Browne did try to get into the box, although the ball was rarely held up in forward positions long enough for him to make one of those trademark runs.
Unlucky not have the ball break his way in dangerous positions on a couple of occasions.
Chiedozie Ogbene – 7
Had a goal disallowed after less than 10 minutes, with his close range rightly chalked off for offside. He tried hard to get the side going, although things didn’t really work out on the occasions that he managed to isolate a defender in a one-on-one situation.
Ogbene has another goal disallowed in the second half, this time after McClean wandered offside before crossing the ball to the forward. Ireland’s most dangerous forward once again, even if his goal evaded him.
Callum Robinson – 6
Robinson always looked to drop into space and get on the ball and make things happen in the final third, although that rarely came off in the first 45 minutes.
The forward grew visibly frustrated as the game went on as the chances failed to drop his way, coming off with 15 minutes to go.
Will Keane – 5
The ball just didn’t stick to Keane in the first half of Ireland v Lithuania, often producing a poor touch just he received possession in a promising area. He attacked crosses on a number of occasions, although failed to really trouble the opposition goalkeeper.
Keane worked hard, but it wasn’t his night as he was taken off after an hour.
Troy Parrott – 9
Presumably brought on to add a bit more guile to the side in forward areas, Ireland probably would have had a goal through Ogbene late on had he not delayed his through ball to James McClean.
He did get Ireland playing a bit more around the box after coming on, forcing a brilliant save out of the Lithuanian goalkeeper in stoppage time. There was no stopping his effort a few minutes later, scoring an absolute thunderbolt of a strike to win it with what was the last kick of the game.
A brilliant cameo.
James McClean – 6
McClean did inject some life into the side after his introduction and was perhaps unlucky to be caught offside for Ireland’s third disallowed goal of the night after Parrott delayed his pass by too much.
He was more than willing to whip in a cross, although few came close to finding their target.
Scott Hogan – 5
Offered very little after coming on, although he did score Ireland’s fourth offside goal of the night.
Jeff Hendrick & Jason Knight – N/A
Not on long enough to rate.