Republic of Ireland held by Denmark in dull Dublin encounter
Harry Arter marked his return to Republic of Ireland action with a vital goal-line clearance as Martin OâNeillâs men opened their Nations League account with a drab 0-0 draw against Denmark.
The Cardiff midfielder, who made himself unavailable for his country for last monthâs opener against Wales following a summer bust-up with assistant manager Roy Keane, came to Irelandâs rescue to deny Denmark skipper Simon Kjaer what would have been a winning goal.
Denmark enjoyed the better of a game in which genuine chances were at a premium in the absence of injured talisman Christian Eriksen, and although the bulk of a crowd of 41,220 were left frustrated â" the Republic have now scored only nine goals in their last 12 games â" they at least emerged with some reward for their efforts.
However, they remain bottom of Group Four in League B ahead of Walesâ visit to the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday night, when OâNeill will hope for significantly more as he targets a first competitive victory since his sideâs World Cup qualifier win in Cardiff 12 months ago.
Arter was handed a start on his return, as for the first time was Wolves defend er Matt Doherty, whose inclusion at right wing-back with James McClean operating on the left meant a switch into midfield for Cyrus Christie.
That in turn allowed Jeff Hendrick to support striker Shane Long, although ultimately to limited effect.
With Eriksen missing from the Denmark side and Ireland adapting to a new shape, the fireworks of the last meeting between the teams, a 5-1 World Cup play-off romp for the Danes in Dublin 11 months ago, were sadly lacking.
The most notable action in the first half came at either end of the 4 5 minutes with Hendrick sparking a mass confrontation when, with Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney apparently attempting to put the ball out of play to allow Arter to have treatment, the Burnley midfielder robbed him and raced in on goal before shooting wide.
Shane Duffy looped a 39th-minute header wide of Kasper Schmeichelâs far post and Pione Sisto clipped the woodwork after cutting inside Doherty and Christie in stoppage time, but that was as good as it got.
Delaney and Lasse Schone saw plenty of the ball in the middle of th e park but without Eriksenâs inspiration, they were unable to provide his replacement Kasper Dolberg and strike-partner Yussuf Poulsen with meaningful service.
Likewise, Republic frontman Long found himself too often isolated to make an impact on the game.
Enda Stevensâ arrival as a half-time substitute for Callum OâDowda allowed McClean to push into a more advanced role, but it was the visitors who were dominating possession as the second half unfolded.
They very nearly made the pressure tell 13 minutes after the resta rt when Kjaer glanced Schoneâs corner towards the far post, but Arter was in the right place at the right time to clear off the line.
But it was Ireland who might have snatched the lead with 18 minutes remaining when Christie ran on to Longâs lay-off and thumped in a rising shot which Schmeichel had to beat away.
OâNeillâs men enjoyed their best period of the game as time ran down, but Randolph had to make late saves from Martin Braithwaite and Delaney to ensure it finished all square, although Duffy was aggrieved not to be awarded a stoppage time penalty after he felt he had been bundled to the ground.
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