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O’Dowda earns eighth international cap

Callum O’Dowda made his second competitive start for the Republic of Ireland as the national side earned a battling goalless draw with Denmark in the first leg of their 2018 FIFA World Cup play-off.

Having produced two goals and five assists for City this term, and impressing during his first senior start against Moldova in Ireland's penultimate group game, O’Dowda completed 90 minutes in Copenhagen, winning his eighth cap.

The visitors were lucky not to suffer an early setback after Darren Randolph was required to make two stops in quick session to deny Jens Stryger Laren and Andreas Cornelious, before Pione Sisto shot wide of the far post after Christian Eriksen’s attempt was beaten away.  

Martin O’Neill’s side created few clear-cut opportunities, and the most notable came on the stroke of half-time when Leicester City’s Kasper Schmeichel saved Cyrus Christie's chip from a closing angle, with Jeff Hendrick’s follow-up crucially turned behind.

As frustration mounted amongst the home supporters, the Danes looked as if they would break the deadlock in the closing minutes when Larsen’s inswinging cross picked out the unmarked Yussuf Poulsen, but the forward’s close range header was acrobatically tipped over by Man of the Match Randolph.

The Republic of Ireland have now avoided defeat in their last five international meetings with Denmark, keeping clean sheets in each of the last three, and the result means O’Neill’s squad haven’t lost in each of their 2018 World Cup qualifying fixtures away from home.  

The sides will meet again on Tuesday evening at a sold out Aviva Stadium, with the victors qualifying for the summer tournament.