//Republic of Ireland 3-1 Bulgaria: Browne, Long and Collins score in friendly win

Republic of Ireland 3-1 Bulgaria: Browne, Long and Collins score in friendly win

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Going forward, Ireland face Georgia and Switzerland in Euro 2020 qualifying when the next international break comes along in October, while Bulgaria play Montonegro and England in their next two qualifiers.

Well. what a second half that was. Both teams were poor in the first 45 minutes if truth be told, but the sides stepped up a gear in the second 45 with all four goals coming in the last half an hour or so of the match. It was Ireland who took the lead through Browne when he tapped the ball home from a couple of yards out after receiving a nice flick from Hogan. Bulgaria then equalised from a Popov penalty, which was awarded following a challenge by Egan on Kraev. However, Ireland would not lie down and scored two goals in three minutes to ensure they claimed victory. First, Long headed home from a corner before substitute Collins lofted the ball over Ivanov on the stretch. All in all, both sides looked lively but the hosts were worthy winners in the end.


90′ There will be two minutes of added time here. Away from the fourth official’s board, Ireland look to make it four but as a cross is swung in, Collins’ header flies over the bar and his momentum takes him tumbling into the net.

88′ That late flurry will definitely win the game for Ireland. They are well on top now and do not look like surrendering their lead again.

Republic of Ireland

86′ GOAL! Ireland grab a third and that makes it 3-1! This is a really good move from the home side. There is some slick passing in midfield before Stevens receives it on the left and crosses into the area. Collins is just onside as the ball comes in and he gets a toe to it, sending the ball looping over Ivanov and into the goal!

Republic of Ireland

86′ Stevens did really well there to send in a wonderful cross which Collins met well with a nice toe to send it over Ivanov.

Republic of Ireland

84′ Collins goes into the book and he is the first man to do so this evening.

Republic of Ireland

84′ Another change from Ireland sees Curtis come off for Hendrick.

Republic of Ireland

83′ Byrne did really well with his corner, which was well-directed for Long to head it into the net.

Republic of Ireland

83′ GOAL! Ireland re-take the lead and it is Long who has done it for them! The hosts win a corner which is swung into the back post by Byrne and Long rises above Pashov to head it into the back of the net, with Ivanov a spectator! 2-1!

81′ Ireland are really pushing for a winner here. Their defence is on the halfway line, meaning Bulgaria have been squeezed into their own half.


81′ The latest change for the visitors sees Malinov come off and Terziev replace him.


80′ Bulgaria make another change which sees Dimitrov make way for Panayotov.

78′ Even as we get to the final ten minutes of this friendly, both sides are treating it as if they need to score a winner. There is no letting up from any of the players.

Republic of Ireland

76′ In another change for the hosts, Stevens comes onto the pitch to replace O’Dowda.

Republic of Ireland

76′ Ireland make a change between the sticks, with O’Hara replacing Travers.

76′ At the other end, Despodov breaks away down the left and cuts inside, beating Christie easily. He then fires a shot towards goal but it is blocked by Long.

75′ Ireland are back on the offensive now and look like they want to score a winner, but the Bulgaria defence is holding firm for the moment.

73′ Bulgaria suddenly look a lot more lively and are enjoying more possession. It must be said, though, that apart from that chance which led to the penalty they have created very little.

71′ Bulgaria are without a win in any of their previous eight matches in all competitions, so if they can hold out for a draw here it would be seen as a brilliant result for them.

Republic of Ireland

69′ Ireland make a change, with McClean coming on for Hourihane.


68′ Bulgaria make another change as Mladenov makes way for Despodov.


67′ GOAL! Popov steps up and smashes the penalty into the roof of the net, leaving Travers with no chance of saving it! 1-1!

66′ Penalty to Bulgaria! That’s a mix-up from Ireland defensively and they have paid for it. Christie battles with Goranov for a ball inside his own area that was bobbling, and the Bulgaria man outstrengths his opponent to win it. He then finds a lovely pass to his right to Kraev, who skips around Egan and is about to take a shot before being tripped by his man and that is a clear penalty.

65′ Byrne could have done a lot better there. He receives the ball from Cullen about 40 yards out in front of the goal and decides to hit a low shot along the ground instead of picking out options he had either side. His shot is scuffed and it goes wide of Ivanov’s right post without threatening him much.

63′ Bulgaria cannot get out here and are camped inside their own half under constant Ireland pressure. They need to get a spell of possession if they are to find a way back into this tie.

61′ More Ireland pressure sees Pashov give the ball away cheaply in his own penalty area. Collins reacts fastest to the loose ball and tries a quick shot towards goal, but he hits it from a few yards away from the byline and the angle is tight, meaning his shot hits the side netting.

Republic of Ireland

60′ Another Ireland change sees Hogan make way for Collins.

60′ Ireland are pressing for a second here and have a free-kick about 35 yards out in front of the goal, but the effort hits the wall.


59′ Bulgaria’s latest change sees Dimitrov come off in place of Wanderson.

Republic of Ireland

59′ Ireland’s first change of the evening sees Judge make way for Byrne.


59′ Bulgaria make another change, with Bozhikov coming on for Nedyalkov.

58′ Well, Ireland do have a knack of scoring second-half goals and it has come to the fore again here.

Republic of Ireland

56′ GOAL! Ireland break the deadlock though Browne! From a Bulgaria corner, Hogan wins the ball back and breaks away before passing to Hourihane on the left. The left-back tries a cross-turned-shot into Ivanov’s near post which the keeper parries away, but only as far as Hogan, who is there again to back-heel across an empty goal and into Browne, who has the simplest of tap-ins. 1-0!

Republic of Ireland

56′ Hogan did really well there to react fastest to Ivanov’s save and get the ball out of his feet quick to Browne, who had a simple finish.

54′ CHANCE! That’s a great opening for Bulgaria. Mladenov has the ball on the left and he crosses low into Malinov, who is allowed to take a touch and control it before turning to his left and firing a blocked shot towards goal. Kraev then has a go from the rebound but that is again blocked by Long and Ireland eventually clear.

53′ Bulgaria look stronger than Ireland here, and are stringing some nice passes in between the lines.

52′ It’s been a wasteful few minutes for Ireland in the second half here, but thankfully for them they do have a knack of scoring second-half goals. In fact, eight of the team’s last 10 strikes have come in the second 45 of matches.

50′ Ireland win a free-kick just inside the Bulgaria half after Hogan was hacked down by Slavchev. It comes to nothing though, as Ivanov collects easily.

49′ Bulgaria form the first attack of the night but it ends with a wasteful first-time shot from Slavchev from the edge of the area which is sliced right up into the air and eventually collected by Travers.

47′ It’s a slower start to this second half compared to how the first half ended, as both sides settle into their rhythms again.

45′ Ireland kick us off for the second half. Here we go!


Bulgaria make the first change of the evening, as Milanov makes way for Popov.

There will likely be a lot of changes from both sides in the second half, which could mix things up and allow a few more chances to be created. So far, though, it’s not surprising that it is 0-0 at the break.

Well, it’s been a lively first half in Dublin but there have been no real chances of note from either side. It’s been an open game where both teams have been guilty of failing to keep the ball in midfield, resulting in chances to break away. However, neither nation has looked like really threatening and despite not being a boring friendly in terms of action, as regards chances it has been boring.


44′ SAVED! Slavchev gives the ball away sloppily inside his own half through a poor pass and Cullen gives it to Hourihane, who bends one in towards Hogan. It’s a low cross from the left which actually misses the striker’s feet, meaning it goes through to Ivanov, who has to react fast to tip it away from his left-hand post and stop it from creeping in the corner of the net.

43′ After stringing together a few nice passes inside the Bulgaria half, the ball comes to Egan, who tries to loft one into the box towards Hogan but he gets it wrong and it sails out for a goal-kick.

41′ Curtis receives the ball inside the Bulgaria half just to the left of the goal about 35 yards out. He has options left and right, with his opponents backing off, but instead he tries to fire one towards goal which is not hit well and it curls to the right, up and over Ivanov’s left post.

40′ The game has really only settled down for a couple of minutes here and there and, besides that, it has been a frantic half. But there have been no notable chances as yet.

38′ That was nice from Goranov. He battles with O’Dowda on the right a couple of yards from the touchline inside the Ireland half and he puts his back into his opponent, allowing him to spin and run down the flank with the ball. His cross into the area is wild, though, and causes no threat at all.

36′ Ireland win a free-kick on the left-hand side which Hourihane whips in. It is a low one close to the ground and Hogan dives for it, facing the dugout as he gets his head to the ball. He scuffs his contact, though, and the ball goes over the bar.

34′ It’s now two sucessive corners for Bulgaria but they have not done much with either. The first was cleared before the second came out to Kraev, whose first-time shot from inside the area was blocked away by Long.

33′ Now Bulgaria have a corner afrer Cullen blocked a Malinov effort following the midfielder’s breakaway.

32′ CLOSE! O’Dowda has the ball on the right and he teases a lofted cross into the area where Hogan is waiting. The striker can’t get his head above Slavchev’s though and the ball drifts back out to Hourihane, whose cross is hit on the turn by Browne but the shot is well wide.

30′ Finally, the game looks like it has settled down after a busy last ten minutes. Bulgaria are enjoying a controlled spell of possession.

28′ Curtis again has the ball down the left and this time his cross into the box goes way over the head of Hogan and Ivanov can collect the ball on the bounce with ease.

27′ Both sides’ midfields are still stretched, here, meaning it’s a very open game and neither team has control of the ball for long.

25′ More good pressure from Ireland now as Curtis whips a ball in from the left. It has pace on it and looks like it could be dangerous, but Kristan Dimitrov clears it well.

24′ That was a nice attempted pass by Christie but it didn’t quite come off. He has the ball on the right and he runs parallel to the dugout before slipping in a pass to his right which goes into the box aiming for Hogan, but Ivanov gets there first.

22′ The possession stats have probably evened up compared to the 72% of the ball Ireland had a few minutes ago. Both sides are struggling to keep the ball and it’s a very open contest.

21′ Now, Ireland are settling back into a rhythm after that frantic past couple of minutes.

19′ Ireland win a free-kick for a rash Bulgaria challenge and it is swung in from the left but collected on the ground by Ivanov.

17′ Bulgaria then get forward easily, exposing the high Ireland line. Mladenov is squared up against Christie on the right and he manages to get the ball to Milanov, but his shot is deflected for a corner, which is headed away.

17′ Another opening for Ireland there as the ball comes out to Judge in front of the goal about 25 yards out. He drills a shot low towards the net but it gets a deflection which slows the ball down and it is saved.

16′ Ireland have had 72% of the possession so far in this game, which shows that they are dominating the ball. They are yet to create anything meaningful, though.

14′ OVER! That’s the best chance of the game so far and it’s come to Ireland. O’Dowda finds a little bit of space on the right about 35 yards out and he swings a cross into the box, where Judge meets it with a header that goes over the bar. It was close, but not enough to threaten Ivanov.

12′ Having said that, the hosts are employing a high line, meaning when Bulgaria break, they break quick. They have a corner here won by Slavchev after he tries to skip past his man down the right, but the defender gets a foot in.

12′ The corner comes in and Malinov rises highest to meet it with a header inside the six-yard box but his effort is over the bar.

10′ Ireland really are dominating the ball now and are beginning to turn the screw a little bit. They are putting lots of pressure on the Bulgaria defenders, who are happy to clear their lines and give away the ball when they do have it.

8′ Ireland try to direct another ball to Hourihane on the left flank but this pass has too much on it and it goes out for a throw-in inside the Bulgaria half.

6′ That’s a decent opening for Bulgaria. Dimitrov races onto a long ball over the top which bounces a few times before anyone get to it. Ireland have two defenders who get back and deal with it on the edge of the area by conceding a corner, which is dealt with easily.

5′ Ireland are directing a lot of their play down the left-hand side through Hourihane, who is doing well at left-back. He is seeing lots of the ball in the Bulgaria half.

4′ In the last two minutes, Ireland are starting to settle more and are getting a lot more of the ball than their opponents. Neither side is doing much with it, though.

2′ Bulgaria have had most of the possession for the opening two minutes and look calm on the ball, but Ireland are beginning to press.

1′ Bulgaria kick us off for the first half. Here we go!

The players are making their way out onto the pitch now, so kick-off should not be too far away.

Glenn Whelan is on the bench for Republic of Ireland tonight, but if he comes on he will earn his 89th cap for his country. That would move him ahead of Tony Cascarino (88) and put him ninth on the all-time appearance list for his nation.

As for Bulgaria, head coach Krasimir Balakov also makes a number of alterations to the side that were beaten by England at the weekend. Notable changes come in goal Рwhere Ivanov replaces Iliev and further forward, where Wanderson and Marcelinho both drop to the bench in place of Nikolay Dimitrov and Kraev, respectively.

Republic of Ireland head coach Mick McCarthy makes ten changes to the side that drew with Switzerland. Travers makes his international debut between the sticks, while Hourihane – usually a midfielder – is deployed at left-back in place of Stevens, who is suspended for his side’s next European qualifier but could have played this one. Elsewhere, Egan is rewarded for his form with Sheffield United and starts at centre-back, Cullen earns his first cap in midfield and Hogan replaces the injured McGoldrick up front.

SUBS: Ivelin Popov, Marcelinho, Martin Lukov, Georgi Terziev, Georgi Sarmov, Kiril Despodov, Nikolay Georgiev Bodurov, Plamen Iliev, Vasil Bozhikov, Vasil Panayotov, Galin Ivanov, Wanderson.

BULGARIA (4-1-4-1): Hristo Ivanov; Ivan Goranov, Anton Nedyalkov, Kristian Dimitrov, Georgi Pashov; Simeon Slavchev; Daniel Mladenov, Georgi Milanov, Kristiyan Malinov, Nikolay Dimitrov; Bozhidar Kraev.

SUBS: Jack Byrne, James McClean, Jeff Hendrick, Seamus Coleman, Darren Randolph, James Collins, Enda Stevens, Shane Duffy, Glenn Whelan, Richard Keogh, Kieran O’Hara

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (4-2-3-1): Mark Travers; Cyrus Christie, Kevin Long, John Egan, Conor Hourihane; Alan Browne, Josh Cullen; Callum O’Dowda, Alan Judge, Ronan Curtis; Scott Hogan

Ireland come into this game off the back of a 1-1 draw with Switzerland on Thursday, in which striker David McGoldrick resuced a point with a header five minutes from time. As for Bulgaria, they were thrashed 4-0 by England on Saturday, which was their fifth defeat in as many games in Group A of Euro 2020 qualifying.

Hello and welcome to this live text commentary of the international friendly between Republic of Ireland and Bulgaria from the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

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