Finland 1-0 Ireland: Finns deal heavy blow to Nations League ambitions

Finland 1-0 Ireland: Finns deal hammer blow to Stephen Kenny’s side’s UEFA Nations League hopes as Fredrick Jensen strike the difference in Helsinki

  • Finland have gone top of their Nations League group after beating Ireland 1-0 
  • Teemu Pukki went closest to scoring in the first half but was twice wayward 
  • The hosts found the net in the second half when Fredrick Jensen tapped home
  • The Finns lead Group 4 ahead of Wales’ clash with Bulgaria on Wednesday 

Republic of Ireland, finding new ways not to score since 2016.

Martin O’Neill liked to play on the break, pace in behind. His side went nowhere fast. Mick McCarthy loved crosses into the box. Noughts and crosses just about sums up that plan.

And the new man, Stephen Kenny, well he is all about possession. That is looking more like nine tenths of the bore on the evidence of three games without a goal in the past week. 

Finland dealt a heavy blow to Ireland’s UEFA Nations League hopes with a 1-0 win in Helsinki

Fredrick Jensen pounced on a defensive lapse to punish the visitors in a nip-and-tuck contest

 The Augsburg striker wheels away in celebration as he delights at opening the scoring

In four years under the management of the above-mentioned trio they have scored just 17 times from 26 competitive games. Under Kenny, it is one goal in eight hours.

The natives are encouraged by Kenny’s start, and you understand why with a shift towards a more attractive style. But unless Kenny works out how to score a goal it will soon look pretty ugly, as his predecessors discovered.

Ireland are headed for the third tier of the Nations League after this defeat. Perhaps opposition such as Albania, Armenia and Azerbaijan will prove easier to crack. 

Ireland players cut dejected figures in what has been a below-par international break

Finnish fans were in attendance at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium for the Nations League game

Because opponents such as Finland – ranked 56th in the world – are simply too difficult for them to break down right now.

That is a pair of 1-0 victories for the Finns over Ireland in the past month. This one was achieved when Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph’s short goal-kick was intercepted and Teemu Pukki crossed for Fredrik Jensen to score on 66 minutes.

And that was enough. It usually is against Ireland.  

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