Bulgaria 1 - 1 Republic of Ireland
REPORT: Bulgaria 1-1 Ireland - Duffy secures point
After an encouraging first-half display, Kenny's side were caught out by Bozhidar Kraev (56) after he found space in between Ireland defenders Duffy and John Egan.
Ireland showed fantastic determination and stuck to the game plan throughout, building from the back and eventually got their reward in injury-time.
Robbie Brady's incredible determination, where he blocked down a clearance and won a corner, saw him find the head of Duffy from a right-sided corner to level the tie.
It was as much as Ireland deserved with plenty of promising early signs.
"It was certainly a match we want to win for sure. There was a lot of good wing play and we had a lot of chances which we didn't take," said Ireland boss Stephen Kenny.
"To be fair, Bulgaria had some great chances as well, a great counter-attacking team but I always thought we controlled the game. You'd like to think that with the nature of a last-minute equaliser, it is a point gained but we'd like to win these matches.
"Shane Duffy's equaliser, a terrific equaliser, a fantastic header at the back post. Robbie Brady did brilliantly to chase it down and then the corner kick itself so there was no way we deserved to lose the game.
"It's our first game together after a really short period of time and we need to get ourselves turned around and ready for Finland now."
Bulgaria: Georgiev; Popov, Zanev (Galabov 79), Dimitrov, Nedyalkov, Malinov, Kostadinov, Ivanov, Kraev, Delev (Karagaren 76), Nedelev.
Republic of Ireland: Randolph, Doherty, Duffy, Egan, Stevens, Hendrick, McCarthy (Brady 70), Hourihane, O'Dowda (Robinson 74), Idah (Long 77), Connolly.
Referee: Manuel Schuettengruber (Aut).
POST-MATCH INTERVIEW | Stephen Kenny | "We need to win these matches" | WATCH HERE
POST-MATCH INTERVIEW | Callum O'Dowda | The 'Three' Man of the Match | WATCH HERE
Highlights will be available on FAI TV following the conclusion of the embargo at midnight tonight.
Preview | Bulgaria v Ireland - UEFA Nations League
The match in Sofia on Thursday, September 3, with kick-off at 7.45pm (Irish Time) will be Kenny's first match in charge of the national team ahead of a potential eight matches between now and November.
The Ireland squad landed in Sofia on Tuesday night and trained at the Vasil Levski Stadium this evening ahead of match day tomorrow.
Despite the short period of time Kenny has had to work with the Ireland squad, he has stressed the importance of playing for Ireland and has encouraged his players to display their talents.
"You've got to have values and you've got to stand for something, and I think that's important in the way the team will evolve," said Kenny.
"Always having that desire to play for Ireland and the realising the importance of playing for Ireland. I always want my team to have confidence in possession and also to want to show the full array of your talents.
"The last couple of days, we've been working on how we're going to play. It's been a really short time and it had to be modified as players played pre-season friendlies at the weekend.
"So, these games against Bulgaria and Finland are important to us because every international game for Ireland is important."
Ireland go into their Group Four match tomorrow evening looking to start their campaign on a positive note before Sunday's fixture in Dublin against Finland.
The UEFA Nations League represents a chance of 2022 World Cup qualification and this is a fact that isn't lost on Ireland manager Stephen Kenny.
"The winners of the group also have a chance, a good chance, of a World Cup play-off and we can't dismiss that. It's a tough group, with Wales as well, and there is a lot of football to be played, six matches, and then the Euro play-offs. It's a challenge but it's a challenge we're going to embrace," continued Kenny.
"We've only had two days. It would be great to have a good start. Bulgaria have had a couple of good results recently, beating the Czech Republic in the Euro qualifiers.
"Since their new coach has come in, they've played well so anything we get in Sofia, we'll have to earn."
Bulgaria v Ireland - Vasil Levski Stadium | 7.45pm (Irish Time)
Pre-match press conference | HERE
Stephen Kenny FAI TV interview | HERE
Seamus Coleman FAI TV interview | HERE
WHERE YOU CAN WATCH THE MATCH
Sky Sports will be showing live coverage of the match with their build up starting at 7pm on Sky Sports Football. Virgin Media will also be showing extended highlights of the match on Virgin Media Two with the programme starting at 10pm on Thursday night.
Stephen Kenny names squad for Bulgaria and Finland matches
Waterford-born Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Jayson Molumby and Cork native Adam Idah, the Norwich City striker, both receive their first call-ups to the senior Ireland squad. Crystal Palace midfielder James McCarthy, Fulham’s Harry Arter, Southampton’s Shane Long and Blackburn Rovers defender Darragh Lenihan all return to the squad for the games in Sofia and Dublin.
David McGoldrick, the Sheffield United striker and the 3 FAI Player of the Year for 2020, will join the squad for the Finland game, pending the assessment of a long-term foot injury.
The squad was announced at JACC headquarters in Dublin as the FAI unveiled a new six-year partnership with the New Era brand of headwear and leisurewear.
The Irish players will meet up on Sunday ahead of two day’s training at the National Training Centre in Abbotstown before flying to the Bulgarian capital on Tuesday afternoon. Both the UEFA Nations League games will be played behind closed doors.
Ireland squad v Bulgaria and Finland
Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (West Ham United), Mark Travers (Bournemouth), Kieran O’Hara (unattached)
Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Matt Doherty (Wolves), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion), John Egan (Sheffield United), Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers).
Midfielders: James McCarthy (Crystal Palace), Harry Arter (Fulham), Jeff Hendrick (unattached), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Jayson Molumby (Brighton and Hove Albion), Robbie Brady (Burnley).
Forwards: Callum Robinson (Sheffield United), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City), James McClean (Stoke City), Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion), Adam Idah (Norwich City), Troy Parrott (Tottenham Hotspur – on loan at Millwall), Shane Long (Southampton).
Note: David McGoldrick (Sheffield United) will join the squad for the Finland game.
- 13 Nikolay Mihaylov (G)
- 23 Martin Lukov (G)
- 4 Ivan Goranov
- 6 Cicinho
- 11 Yanis Karabelyov
- 12 Stanislav Rabotov
- 15 Plamen Galabov
- 17 Birsent Karagaren
- 19 Ismail Isa
- 20 Dimitar Iliev
- 21 Filip Krastev
- 22 Aleksandar Tsvetkov
Republic of Ireland
- 1 Mark Travers (G)
- 16 Caoimhin Kelleher (G)
- 2 Seamus Coleman
- 6 Alan Browne
- 10 Robbie Brady
- 11 James McClean
- 12 Callum Robinson
- 18 Shane Long
- 19 Seán Maguire
- 20 Harry Arter
- 21 Darragh Lenihan
- 22 Jayson Molumby
- Referee Manuel Schuettengruber
- Assistant Referees Robert Steinacher
- UEFA Delegate Lampirni Dimitrou
- Assistant Referee Two Andreas Rothmann
- Fourth Official Allard Lindhout
- Referee Observer Boško Jovanetić
- Republic of Ireland
Shots on Target
Shots off Target
Republic of Ireland
4Shots on Goal3
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