Stephen Kenny: Belgium struggled against Ireland's 'relentless pressing'
"Our pressing was relentless and they struggled to get out."
Stephen Kenny praised his Republic of Ireland team after they recorded an encouraging draw against Belgium on Saturday evening.
The two sides played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in a friendly at a packed Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Belgium, the world's number one ranked international team, did not select any of their players with more than 50 caps in the match.
Yet, they had plenty of talent on the pitch and twice took the lead. Ireland, however, equalised twice and their bravery was praised by their manager following the game.
Ireland 2-2 Belgium.
Michy Batshuayi opened the scoring with a stunning strike after 12 minutes.
Roberto Martinez's side were in complete control of the match until 10 minutes before half-time when Ireland equalised thanks to Chiedozie Ogbene, who scored with an overhead kick.
Belgium went again ahead after an hour when Hans Vanaken scored with a free header in Ireland's penalty area from a Belgium corner-kick.
Irish players scoring overheads against Belgium
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However, once again Stephen Kenny's side responded. With five minutes to go, Ogbene kept the ball in play out wide and crossed in for substitute Alan Browne to score a thumping header past Simon Mignolet.
Following the match, Kenny praised Ireland's pressing and intensity and said that, if they had have managed to beat Belgium, it would not have been a flattering result.
Stephen Kenny on Ireland's draw with Belgium.
"I thought it was a high technical standard", Kenny said in his post-match press conference.
"I felt it was end to end, really. I’m disappointed with the two goals that we conceded, both goals. But to have the determination and the quality to come back and score the two goals that we did is hugely encouraging.
"Certainly to win the game would not have flattered us at all. The ball cleared off the line that we should have scored, just after half-time that would have made it 2-1. That was a crucial moment."
NO STOPPING THAT!! 💥
Alan Browne makes 2-2, Ogbene with a brilliant assist! 🇮🇪 pic.twitter.com/lRid5MBn9q
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The Ireland manager said that Belgium found it difficult to cope with Ireland's intensity and high-pressing.
Kenny also explained that he would never send his team out to play in a low-block and try to stifle the game, as it would ultimately be counter-productive against such a talented side.
"Our pressing was relentless and they struggled to get out," the Ireland coach said.
"It requires a huge amount of energy and you can’t carry a player even slightly in that situation. We were willing to do that.
"We don’t want to be in a low block playing against them. It’s a slow death. We’re not having that, we don’t want that. We want to try and affect the game."
Ireland's next match is a friendly against Lithuania in Dublin on Tuesday evening.