Five things we learned from City’s busy international evening
- Credit: PA
After a busy night of international action for Norwich City players, David Freezer takes a look at five things we learned.
1 - Gilmour stands out
Scotland boss Steve Clarke had been happy to keep adding to the Billy Gilmour hype ahead of Scotland’s qualifier in Denmark.
"It’s going to be a good year for Billy in terms of his education,” he said of the youngster joining Norwich, speaking to the Herald. “He’s a good player, he’ll adapt to the situation and learn from it."
He then started as part of a midfield five, to the right of City colleague Kenny McLean as the central pivot and with Grant Hanley behind him on the right of a back three.
It proved to be a 2-0 defeat away to Euros semi-finalists Denmark for the Scots, with Gilmour firing just wide with a 20-yard shot early in the second half, as the visitors showed spirit after the break.
The Chelsea loanee was the only player the Daily Record gave a seven of out 10 in their ratings, giving Hanley a six and McLean a five.
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The Scotsman reported that the midfielder was a shining light, including: “In just his fourth appearance for Scotland, Gilmour ultimately didn’t look out of place in combat with the team currently ranked 11th in the world.
“The 20-year-old should be a fixture in dark blue for years to come. Unless the standards around him can be raised more significantly, however, he will become accustomed to all too many nights like this.”
Of the Scotland players, he attempted more passes (62), completed the most accurate passes (52), tied with Liverpool full-back Andrew Robertson for the most touches (75) and made the most tackles (four), according to WhoScored.com.
After a shaky spell during a tough start to the season for the Canaries, international action could just help Gilmour return with a welcome confidence boost, with a home qualifier against Moldova up next.
2 - Frustrating but special night
Having made just his 10th appearance for Norwich City recently, 19-year-old defender Andrew Omobamidele found himself contending with one of the all-time greats of the football world last night: Cristiano Ronaldo.
Last week he was making his first start of the season for City as he helped ease to a 6-0 thrashing of an under-strength Bournemouth at Carrow Road in the second round of the League Cup.
Yet having trained with the Ireland squad this summer after his senior emergence during the Canaries' charge to the Championship title, he found himself pitched into World Cup qualification action.
Stephen Kenny’s faith in youth has been clear since stepping up from under-21 level, enduring some serious teething problems as he tries to build a new generation.
It was Omobamidele he turned to in the 36th minute when Dara O’Shea was forced off injured, on the right of a back three, showing his quality to stick with Ronaldo and block the Manchester United returnee’s cross early in the second half.
It was Sheffield United’s John Egan punching the turf in frustration after losing Ronaldo for the late equaliser, stepping into space and using his trademark spring to head home as he has so many times before.
That equalled the all-time international goal-scoring record and he claimed it outright with goal number 111 in injury-time, with Omobamidele dropping to his knees in disappointment as both he and Everton right-back Seamus Coleman lost track of Ronaldo before he leapt to head home the last-gasp winner.
Painful, it may have been, but just to be sharing a pitch with such a legendary figure must have been a surreal feeling for a player who was still playing for City’s under-23s regularly until Ben Gibson’s injury in March.
3 – Idah's progress
Just four players have now won more caps for Ireland while playing for Norwich than Adam Idah.
The young striker earned his eighth cap as he started in Portugal, putting in a real shift that drew plenty of praise from Ireland fans, working hard as the lone target man.
He also created a huge opportunity for the Irish to go 2-0 ahead, holding up play on the left and bursting away from Real Madrid legend Pepe to cross, only for Aaron Connolly to lash wide after a header down from John Egan.
Ronaldo’s intervention then broke the visitors’ hearts to snatch a World Cup qualifying win in Lisbon.
The Irish Time rated Idah as nine out of 10 for his efforts, describing his hold-up play as "invaluable" and gave Omobamidele eight out of 10 as part of a "heroic defensive effort".
According to the Canary Companion book, that eased Idah ahead of Gary Doherty, who won seven Republic caps during his time with City.
The players ahead of the Cork youngster are Keith O’Neill (11 caps), Robbie Brady and Andy Townsend (17), and Wes Hoolahan (42).
The 20-year-old's search for his first international goal continues when Ireland return home to Dublin on Saturday knowing they need to beat Azerbaijan to maintain slim qualification hopes.
4 - Patience tested
Tim Krul’s wait for his 16th cap goes on with the Netherlands, being an unused substitute for a sixth consecutive match for his country, having started the six before that.
Frank de Boer went with Maarten Stekelenburg at the Euros but the Ajax veteran has now retired from international duty and Louis van Gaal has returned as manager.
It was 23-year-old Feyenoord keeper Justin Bijlow earning his first cap during the 1-1 draw in Norway, with Krul on the bench alongside the uncapped Joel Drommel, 24, who has been starting regularly for PSV Eindhoven since joining from Dutch side Twente this summer.
Next up is a home qualifier against Montenegro, to learn if Van Gaal is assessing his options or if Bijlow is now first choice, despite the much more experienced Krul, 33, being back in the Premier League.
Norwich loanee Mathias Normann played the opening 68 minutes for the hosts, click here to read our scouting report of the midfielder’s evening.
5 - Absentees
Not everyone saw action on Wednesday night though, with Teemu Pukki an unused substitute as Finland drew a friendly 0-0 in Wales, with two qualifiers approaching.
Ozan Kabak also wasn’t involved as Turkey were held to a 2-2 qualifying draw at home by Montenegro, with both countries on the UK’s Coronavirus red list, which Premier League players aren’t allowed to play in.
The defender is expected to be fine for the qualifiers in Gibraltar and Holland which follow though.
It’s a similar story for Milot Rashica, who won’t feature for Kosovo in Georgia tonight, which is a red list country, but should for the home qualifiers against Greece and Spain which follow.
Canaries left-back Dimitris Giannoulis earned his 16th cap as a half-time substitute as Greece lost a friendly 2-1 in Switzerland.
Christos Tzolis was not involved but has posted a photo on Instagram of physio work on the calf concern which kept him out of City’s loss to Leicester on Saturday, as he hopes to feature in qualifiers against Kosovo and Sweden.
(7.45pm UK time and World Cup qualifier unless stated)
Friday, Sept 3
3.05am - El Salvador v USA (Josh Sargent)
Euro U21 qualifying - 3.30pm - Bosnia & Herz U21 v Rep of Ireland U21 (Sam Blair)
Sat, Sept 4
2pm – Finland (Pukki) v Kazakhstan
5pm – Rep of Ireland (Idah & Omobamidele) v Azerbaijan
5pm – Latvia v Norway (Normann)
Scotland (Hanley, McLean, Gilmour) v Moldova
Gibraltar v Turkey (Kabak)
Netherlands (Krul) v Montenegro
Sun, Sept 5
Kosovo (Milot Rashica) v Greece (Giannoulis)
Mon, Sept 6
1am – USA v Canada (Sargent)
Tues, Sept 7
Rep of Ireland (Idah & Omobamidele) v Serbia
France v Finland (Pukki)
Austria v Scotland (Hanley, McLean, Gilmour)
Netherlands (Krul) v Turkey (Kabak)
Norway (Normann) v Gibraltar
Euro U21 qualifying
3pm – Luxembourg U21 v Rep of Ireland U21 (Blair)
4.30pm - Bulgaria U21 v Wales U21 (Dan Barden)
7pm – England U21 (Aarons) v Kosovo U21
Weds, Sept 8
Greece (Giannoulis) v Sweden
Kosovo (Rashica) v Spain
Thurs, Sept 9
3.05am - Honduras v USA (Sargent)
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