Bulgaria 1-1 Republic of Ireland: Shane Duffy scores late equaliser

Bulgaria 1-1 Republic of Ireland: Shane Duffy scores dramatic late equaliser in Stephen Kenny’s first game in charge

  • Republic of Ireland drew 1-1 v Bulgaria in Stephen Kenny’s first game as boss 
  • Shane Duffy scored a late equaliser for Ireland with a header in stoppage time 
  • Bozhidar Kraev scored opening goal of the game for Bulgaria in the 56th minute  

Shane Duffy cost Ireland a goal but then rescued a point in stoppage-time on Stephen Kenny’s managerial bow. 

The captain – who signed for Celtic this week – had endured a miserable night and was to blame in allowing Bozhidar Kraev the freedom of Ireland’s penalty area to slot home the opening goal on 56 minutes.

But he redeemed himself when climbing highest to head a Robbie Brady corner into the bottom corner on 93 minutes. 

Shane Duffy scored a dramatic late equaliser as Republic of Ireland drew 1-1 with Bulgaria

 Bozhidar Kraev put Bulgaria ahead with a neat finish in the 56th minute of the game

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny oversaw a draw in his first game in charge

New boss Kenny had earlier made a statement with his team selection when doing what none of his predecessors had ever done – leaving captain Seamus Coleman on the bench.

That meant a start for Spurs’ new £15million right-back Matt Doherty, a player whose performance for his country never did match his brilliance in a Wolves shirt. And so that remains the case.

Kenny promised a progressive approach and a debut for Norwich teenager Adam Idah in attack reinforced that commitment to play on the front foot.

Kraev is congratulated by his Bulgaria team-mates after he found the net in the second half

Aaron Connolly attempts to guide the ball beyond the reach of goalkeeper Georgi Georgiev

Jeff Hendrick attempts to retain possession as he is challenged by Bulgaria’s Strahil Popov

Norwich teenager Adam Idah was given his senior debut by new Ireland manager Kenny

Brighton terrier Aaron Connolly will be key to Kenny’s success or otherwise and he came closest to an opening goal when picking the pocket of a defender and curling narrowly wide.

It felt very familiar when half-time arrived with Ireland having failed to register an effort on target, but that did not tell the story of a period which offered hope, not least an unheard of 64 per cent possession.

And that improved ball retention looked like being the only positive until Duffy intervened to rescue a point. There is, though, much still to ponder for Kenny.

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