Ireland down Latvia in first international game of the year

Ogbene Ireland
Ogbene celebrates after bagging the winner. Photo by Ireland Football/@IrelandFootball.

Three goals saw off the Baltic side on Wednesday evening

By James Roulston Mooney

The Ireland men’s national football team defeated Latvia 3-2 at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday evening in the first international game of 2023.

Debutant Evan Ferguson got on the scoresheet alongside Cardiff City’s Callum O’Dowda and former Limerick FC star Chiedozie Ogbene.

A Latvian screamer and a deflection spiced up an otherwise one-sided affair that showcased Ireland’s new stars in Ferguson and midfielder Will Smallbone and winger Mikey Johnston, as well as their new kits.

All the new faces got involved in goals on the night in front of the 41,000 plus people in attendance on Lansdowne Road.

Smallbone’s assist found O’Dowda’s diving head in the sixth minute of the game and Ireland’s momentum only grew when Ferguson tapped the ball in from seven yards out.

Ogbene played it in for the Brighton forward and got on the end of a rebound himself in the second half after substitute Mikey Johnston almost equalled Ferguson’s feat of scoring on his first cap.

Celtic winger Johnston switched allegiances from Scotland ahead of this international window

Latvian forward Roberts Uldriķis smashed the ball into the top corner from long distance after half an hour to add to the list of magnificent goals that Stephen Kenny’s Ireland side have conceded.

Midfielder Artūrs Zjuzins pulled his side level with a deflected half volley before half time but the Irish proved too much for the World number 134 team.

Next up is another home fixture against World Cup runners-up France in their first match of their UEFA Euro 2024 Qualification campaign.

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