Kenny under fire after Ireland’s Euro hopes all but finished by Dutch defeat | Euro 2024 qualifying

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Cody Gakpo and Wout Weghorst effectively ended the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2024 qualification hopes as the Netherlands came from behind to win in Dublin.

On a night when Ireland simply had to win, they took an early lead when Adam Idah nervelessly converted a fourth-minute penalty awarded for handball against Virgil van Dijk.

However, Gakpo levelled from the spot after 19 minutes and after an unhappy Ronald Koeman had made a double half-time change, substitute Weghorst fired the visitors to a 2-1 victory as they recovered from a less than impressive opening 45 minutes to hold sway.

For Stephen Kenny, a fourth defeat in five Group B games and just a single win means a trip to Germany next summer is only a mathematical possibility, with France having collected a maximum 15 points and the Dutch and Greece both sitting on nine.

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Appointed in April 2020, Kenny, who received a mixed response from a crowd of 49,807 when his name was announced ahead of kick-off at the Aviva Stadium, set his sights on building a new-look side for this campaign but to be so far off the pace with three games left to play represents failure and his future looks bleak.

His team played with real endeavour, Idah giving Van Dijk a torrid examination in perhaps his best senior international display, but they were painfully exposed defensively by genuine quality for both goals and ultimately could not find the cutting edge.

From an early corner, Van Dijk mistimed his jump and saw James McClean’s cross hit his arm, prompting referee Irfan Peljto to point to the spot, and Idah duly obliged by confidently sending keeper Mark Flekken the wrong way

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But the visitors forced their way back into the game with their first move of any real quality. Gakpo’s expertly-threaded pass split the Irish defence and allowed Denzel Dumfries to round exposed keeper Gavin Bazunu, who brought him down in his efforts to rescue the situation.

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Euro 2024 qualifying roundup: Greece stay second after Gibraltar romp

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Elsewhere in Ireland’s group, Greece beat Gibraltar 5-0 in Athens to remain in the race for the second qualifying spot.

Dimitrios Pelkas opened the scoring after nine minutes before Konstantinos Mavropanos followed up midway through the half with the first of two goals. Giorgos Masouras netted after the break, before both he and Mavropanos each grabbed another to seal the victory and put the hosts level with the Dutch on nine points, albeit having played a game more.

After beating Northern Ireland, Kazakhstan are one of four teams separated by a point at the top of Group H, with Denmark leading the way thanks to Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s 86th-minute strike to seal a 1-0 win away in Finland. It meant the Danes briefly replaced their hosts at the top of the group, before being knocked back into second on goal difference after Slovenia romped to a 4-0 win in San Marino.

Zan Vipotnik, Jan Mlakar, Sandi Lovric and Zan Karnicnik scored the goals against the section’s bottom side, who remain without a point.
Poland‘s hopes of reaching the finals received a serious knock as they lost for the third time in five games in Group E, this time going down to a 2-0 defeat in Albania.Jasir Asani and Mirlind Daku scored either side of half-time in Tirana to send Albania two points clear of the Czech Republic at the top of the group.

Moldova are behind the Czechs on goal difference after they kept up their surprise bid to reach the finals with a 1-0 win in the Faroe Islands.
Vadim Rata netted early in the second half in Torshavn to move his side onto eight points and leave the Faroes adrift at the bottom with a single point on the board.

In Group G, Montenegro and Serbia kept up the pressure on leaders Hungary in a three-way fight to qualify. Montenegro needed a goal six minutes into added time from Stevan Jovetic to snatch a 2-1 win against Bulgaria in Podgorica despite having played more than 30 minutes with 10 players. Igor Vujacic was sent off just before the hour mark after Stefan Savic had given the hosts the lead on the stroke of half-time, but Preslav Borukov levelled in the 79th minute before Jovetic’s dramatic late intervention.

Aleksandar Mitrovic score a first-half hat-trick as Serbia coasted to a 3-1 win in Lithuania, with Gytis Paulauskas’s goal not enough to rescue the home side’s faint hopes of qualification.

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Peljto once again had little option to award a penalty. Bazunu was unable keep out Gakpo’s skidding attempt despite correctly diving to his left.

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Such was Ronald Koeman’s displeasure with what he had seen that he replaced Daley Blind and Mats Wieffer with Weghorst and Tijjani Reijnders before the restart, and the changes gave his side a better shape.

IThe increasingly influential Frenkie De Jong fashioned the breakthrough 11 minutes into the second half.

A lofted ball over the top was perfectly weighted for Dumfries to turn it across goal and allow Weghorst to stab past Bazunu. Ireland’s sense of deflation was palpable and although they battled manfully to the whistle, they were unable to trouble Flekken unduly.

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