Helsinki (AFP) – Stephen Kenny is still waiting for his first win as Republic or Ireland manager after a 1-0 defeat in Finland left his side out of contention for top spot in Nations League Group B4.
In front of 8,000 fans in Helsinki, Fredrik Jensen scored the only goal, as he did when the sides met last month in Dublin, to take Finland a point above Wales at the top of the group.
Kenny has had to deal with the disruption of positive coronavirus cases and players forced into self-isolation, but his philosophy for Ireland to play more possession football backfired for Jensen’s winner.
Goalkeeper Darren Randolph’s pass was intercepted by Teemu Pukki and he squared for Jensen, who scored at the second attempt after his first effort was blocked by Shane Duffy.
Centre-back Duffy remains the only man to score in Kenny’s reign as for the fourth straight game Ireland failed to find the net.
Enda Stevens hit the crossbar in the second-half and Ronan Curtis was denied by a fine save from Lukas Hradecky in stoppage time.
But defeat leaves Ireland on just two points from four games in the group, seven points behind the Finns with just two more matches to come next month.