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Republic of Ireland 1-1 Netherlands

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Luuk de Jong

Republic of Ireland were denied a confidence-boosting win in their penultimate game before Euro 2016 as Netherlands claimed a draw in Dublin.

Shane Long tapped in his 16th international goal from close range to give the Republic a half-time lead.

And Martin O’Neill’s side went close with two Shane Duffy headers but Luuk de Jong converted a late free header.

The Republic host Belarus on Tuesday, the same night that O’Neill names his squad for the tournament in France.

O’Neill seems assured on his selections and stated ahead of kick-off that he will likely inform most players of their places this weekend.

Of those thought to be in a battle for a seat on the plane, Bournemouth’s Harry Arter – in just his second appearance for the Republic – delivered an eye-catching display in midfield.

His positive influence looked set to complement a solid display by O’Neill’s side, but they will be frustrated with the non-existent marking which allowed De Jong to glance in from 10 yards just three minutes after coming on.

Shane Long celebrates

It was the visitors’ only effort on target and their ordinary display perhaps underlined why they fell short of qualifying for the European Championships.

Danny Blind’s side have now conceded in eight straight games – their worst defensive run since 1962 – and the Republic could have taken further advantage of that defensive weakness.

Long’s goal arrived from a set piece when John O’Shea’s header was saved and a flurry of set-pieces after the break saw Duffy head over, then wide, when well placed.

The home side made five changes after the break and the introduction of Darron Gibson perhaps suggests the Everton midfielder has not done enough to warrant a place in the final squad.

O’Neill may argue the number of changes led to a lack of cohesion when his side let the lead slip, but such a lapse in France may again prove costly as they contest a challenging group.

A good start against Sweden in Paris on 13 June looks essential, with fixtures against Belgium and Italy to follow. Ireland though are at least proving hard to beat, with just one defeat in 13 matches.

Line-ups

R. of Ireland

  • 23Randolph
  • 2Coleman
  • 12Duffy
  • 4O’Shea
  • 19Brady
  • 18ArterBooked at 40mins