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22nd Mar 2023

Ireland vs Latvia: Player ratings as Evan Ferguson scores in 3-2 win

Robert Redmond

Ireland will play their first match of the year against Latvia.

The Republic of Ireland take on Latvia on Wednesday night in their first match of the year. Ireland are using the friendly at the Aviva Stadium as a warm-up game for a huge Euro 2024 qualifier against France.

You can follow the match live in our hub below, where we will have updates about team news, big talking points and player ratings. 

Ireland vs Latvia: Player Ratings.

Caoimhin Kelleher – 5

The Liverpool goalkeeper came into the team to earn his 10th senior cap, starting ahead of Gavin Bazunu. Kelleher hasn’t played much football this season, making just three appearances for the Reds.

He looked rusty and was beaten twice in the first half. The Irish midfield and defence failed to close down their opponents and Kelleher was well-beaten for both goals.

For the first Latvia goal, Kelleher couldn’t get near Uldriķis’s excellent strike into the top corner.

For the second goal, he was caught out by Collins’ deflection. For both goals, however, the Liverpool goalkeeper arguably should have gotten closer to make a save.

Matt Doherty – 7

The wing-back was another player in need of game time. Doherty has played just 12 minutes for Atletico Madrid since joining the club from Tottenham at the end of January.

On his 34th appearance, the Dubliner captained the side and was the team’s most creative player. Ireland’s two goals in the first half came from Doherty’s crosses into the penalty area and he linked well with debutant Smallbone.

The former Spurs wing-back lost the ball for Latvia’s first goal with a loose pass but was a threat going forward.

Nathan Collins – 6

Collins was yet another Irish player who needed game time ahead of the France match. The defender hasn’t started a game for Wolves since January when he played 90 minutes in a 3-0 loss to Manchester City.

Like the rest of the Ireland defence, he didn’t cover himself in glory for the Latvia goals in the first half.

Collins backed off as Uldriķis let fly from 25 yards and found the top corner. He also failed to clear his lines for the second goal.

Dara O’Shea – 6

The West Brom defender failed to clear the ball before Latvia’s second goal.

Andrew Omobamidele – 6

The Norwich defender was part of a defensive breakdown in the final 20 minutes of the first half.

John Egan’s experience was missed and he will undoubtedly return to the back three for Ireland’s match against France, replacing one of the back three.

Callum O’Dowda – 7

O’Dowda started at left-wing back and opened the scoring after five minutes, ghosting in at the back post before heading home.

O’Dowda was an effective attacking outlet and comfortable in possession. He faded in the second half but looks to have secured his starting spot against France.

Jayson Molumby – 6

Molumby did well carrying the ball forward for Ireland’s second goal. The West Brom midfielder snapped into tackles, drove forward with the and never shied away from receiving possession.

Like the rest of the Irish midfield, however, the game slipped away from him during the period Latvia scored twice. He didn’t stop running though and helped set the tempo for Ireland.

Alan Browne – 5

Browne dropped into midfield to receive the ball, but rarely turned and passed it forward or opened up Latvia.

The Preston midfielder is more comfortable playing in an advanced midfield role, rather than in the centre of the pitch. He was also outmuscled at times by Latvia in the middle of the park.

Yet again, Ireland’s midfield looked vulnerable. Kenny arguably needs to sacrifice one of his strikers to get another midfielder in the team to stop Ireland from being overrun.

Will Smallbone – 7

The Stoke midfielder was making his debut for Ireland and was one of Ireland’s best players.

Smallbone linked up well with Doherty down the right wing and brought some incision to Ireland’s play in the final third.

He appeared to be playing on the right side of a forward three, rather than in midfield.

Smallbone did well in the position, but he may be better used centrally to help Ireland’s rickety two-man midfield.

Michael Obafemi – 6

Obafemi has had a difficult season at club level. The striker was frozen out at Swansea City before completing a move to Burnley in January.

Obafemi has yet to start a Championship match for his new team, however, and has been used mostly as an impact sub.

He was on the edge of the game against Latvia but showed some decent flashes of play. He also set up Ferguson’s goal. His pace on the break means he will be a contender to start against France.

Evan Ferguson – 7

The Brighton striker was the big talking point ahead of the game. At a time when Irish players are few and far between in the Premier League, Ferguson has been a revelation over the past few months.

The former Bohemians forward has scored against Arsenal, Everton and Leicester City and has been tipped for a big future by his manager Roberto de Zerbi.

The 18-year-old justified the hype when he opened his account for Ireland on his first start with a goal in the opening half.

He was also comfortable in possession and played some impressive one-touch passes.

Ferguson’s potential is evident, he just needs his teammates to create chances for him and bring him into play. On the evidence of tonight, that won’t be straightforward.


John Egan – 6

Calm influence at the back.

Chiedozie Ogbene – 6

The substitute tapped the ball into an empty net to put Ireland back in front after great work by Mikey Johnston, and a fortunate deflection off a Latvian player. Ogbene was busy after that, but his final ball into the box wasn’t always accurate.

Mikey Johnston – 6

Johnston made an immediate impact by running at the Latvia defence and hitting the post, before the ball bounced loose for Ogbene to score.

The Celtic winger showed some nice touches and was dangerous when dribbling at the Latvia defence.

Troy Parrott, James McClean and Jeff Hendrick – N/A

They weren’t on the pitch long enough to be rated.

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