Darren Randolph was the hero as the Republic of Ireland held rivals Northern Ireland to a goalless draw at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

The home side shot-stopper pulled off two crucial saves - one in each half - to deny Northern Ireland their first victory over their neighbours since 1999.

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In the first meeting between the neighbours in seven years it was Northern Ireland who controlled proceedings.

Michael O'Neill's side played the better football in the first-half, conjuring up a couple of decent opportunities and would have deservedly led at the break had Gavin Whyte found a way past Randolph after he was released.

The Middlesbrough keeper once again bailed his side out after the break when some slack defending by Darragh Lenihan allowed substitute Jordan Jones through on goal, as Northern Ireland failed to convert their possession dominance into a goal.

Republic of Ireland - now without a win in five games and without a goal in their last three - failed to create any real chances of note on another night of frustration for Martin O'Neill's side, and ultimately the hosts were fortunate to escape with a draw.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland were relegated from Group 3 League B of the Nations League after Austria and Bosnia-Herzegovina played out a goalless draw.


Republic of Ireland's negative tactics Setting up like the defensive team at home to a team of France's calibre is understandable, if not sensible, but to pack 10 men behind the ball against your fiercest rivals in a friendly isn't exactly wise. The Republic - higher in the FIFA rankings than their neighbours - sat back and their tentative approach allowed the likes of Steven Davis and Stuart Dallas to control midfield.

Martin O'Neill, Manager of Republic of Ireland reacts during the International Friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on November 15, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.

Image credit: Getty Images

For many years O'Neill's negative football has been overlooked because, on the most part, Ireland were garnering positive results. Now, however, with one win in 10 games and without a goal in three, supporters are understandably growing frustrated. Something needs to change.


Darren Randolph (Republic of Ireland) - Another confident performance from the shot-stopper, and the only player in the home side who could hold their head up high at the final whistle. The Republic of Ireland can only rely on their goalkeeper for so long.

Martin O'Neill, Manager of Republic of Ireland reacts during the International Friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at Aviva Stadium on November 15, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.

Image credit: Getty Images


Republic of Ireland: Randolph 8, Coleman 6, Duffy 5, Egan 5, Lenihan 4, McClean 5, Whelan 4, Brady 5, Hendrick 5, O'Dowda 5, Robinson 5. Subs: Christie N/A, Curtis 5, Maguire N/A, Hogan N/A, Hourihane 5, Stevens 5.

Northern Ireland: Peacock-Farrell 6, Smith 6, Cathcart 5, J Evans 6, Lewis 7, C Evans 5, Whyte 6, Davis 7, Saville 6, Dallas 7, Boyce 6. Subs: McNair 6, Ward 5, Jones 5, Lafferty 5.


13' - GREAT CHANCE FOR WHYTE! The Oxford forward, making his first start for Northern Ireland spurns a golden opportunity for the visitors. Duffy is caught out defensively, Davis feeds Dallas who squares it for Whyte who is through on-goal. Out comes Randolph who makes himself big to block the shot.

21' - GOOD SAVE! Duffy is left unmarked to meet a dangerous Brady free-kick delivery and he ought to score, but he doesn't get a clean connection on his effort which allows Peacock-Farrell to tip his downward header over the bar.

69' - GREAT CHANCE! Duffy's terrible looping header puts his team mates in all kinds of trouble. Smith pounces and delivers a dangerous cross for Boyce, but Randolph is quickest to react and punches clear.

72' - WHAT A SAVE! Jones steals the ball ofF the sleeping Lenihan and suddenly he's through on goal! He shoots low, but Randolph makes himself big and uses his feet to divert his effort behind for a corner. The best chance of the night.


  • Republic of Ireland have lost only one of their last nine international matches against Northern Ireland (W4 D4).
  • Northern Ireland have never scored more than one goal in their 11 encounters with the Republic of Ireland, scoring just four goals in total.
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