St Mirren midfielder Jamie McGrath was handed his first international start for the Republic of Ireland against Portugal – but Cristiano Ronaldo has left him heartbroken.
Stephen Kenny’s side were leading the footballing giants 1-0 with five minutes to go after McGrath’s brilliant corner found John Egan’s head. But Ronaldo -fresh off a massive move to Manchester United – scored twice, once in the 89th minute and again in the 96th to seal a last-gasp 2-1 win on Wednesday night.
Irish misery was compounded by Luxembourg’s win over Azerbaijan. Kenny’s team now having lost their three opening World Cup 2022 qualification matches. With Serbia in second on seven points, Luxembourg in third with six and Portugal on top after the Manchester United striker’s double, reaching the World Cup will be an uphill task.
But it was a memorable night for McGrath. He has been called into the Irish squad off the back of form with St Mirren in the Scottish Premiership, scoring 17 goals from midfield last season. He competed well against Portugal, facing off against the likes of Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes.
Ronaldo’s late strikes though means his chances of going to the World Cup in Qatar are slim. It has been a turbulent week for McGrath, who had interest from the English Championship on Deadline Day. Hibs then moved to sign him at the 11th hour in a player-plus-cash deal but paperwork problems at Hibs ended the deal.
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