Kenny laments non-award of ‘blatant penalty’ in Serbia loss


Kenny says Ireland would not have lost the game had they scored from a spot kick he believes should been awarded for a foul on Aaron Connolly.

STEPHEN KENNY WAS left to lament the non-award of a penalty in Ireland’s 3-2 World Cup qualifying loss to Serbia tonight. 

Connolly went to ground in the box under a challenge from Stefan Mitrović early in the second half, with the referee waving away Irish appeals for a penalty. It couldn’t be referred to VAR as the system wasn’t in operation. 

“We have had a blatant penalty rejected. We’ve watched it back, and Aaron’s touched the ball away and the player has fouled him. That’s a penalty go to 2-1 up and we’re not losing the game at 2-1 up in the second half, that’s for sure. We’re not saying we definitely would have won it but I don’t see us losing it. That’s a very pivotal moment in the game.” 

Serbia felt aggrieved shortly after, when Seamus Coleman slipped in the penalty area and accidentally upended Dusan Vlahovic. Any lingering grievance on their part was washed away by the result, as a pair of Aleksander Mitrovic goals in seven second-half minutes was enough to secure three points in spite of a late Irish goal and rally. 

Mitrovic’s lobbed an out-of-position Mark Travers for his first goal, though Kenny was keen to take attention away from his 21-year-old goalkeeper, instead spreading the disappointment and stressing that Ireland should not have conceded from a move that began with their own goal kick. 

“Mark is an excellent young goalkepeer, a really good goalkeeper, he hasn’t been playing recently at Bournemouth but he has a great future ahead of him. He couldn’t have done anything about the first and third goals and overall I think Mark has a really great future ahead of him.”

Meanwhile, Kenny admitted Serbia are further in their development than Ireland. 

“On the night, it was quite an evenly balanced game overall. Before we conceded the second goal, we had quite a few attacks and Matt [Doherty] overlapped and pulled one back. The other one, Aaron Connolly was fouled. We had quite a bit of positive play.

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“Serbia are an excellent team, I’m not trying to say they’re not. If you’re asking are they better for us, they are further in their development, for sure. But on the night there wasn’t much in the game and obviously the second goal was crucial overall, and that was it.”

The manager was coy as to whether his 5-3-2 system will be retained for Saturday’s game with Luxembourg. 

“We have to consider it. We do have to be tactically flexible, that we can change our systems.  it depends on the players who are available and the team you are playing against. We have to consider all of those options.”

“With the front two Callum Robinson and Aaron Connolly with Alan Browne supporting, we look a goal threat. The three of them looked capable of scoring goals, and that’s what we felt today.”

Stephen Kenny ahead of kick-off in Belgrade tonight.

Stephen Kenny ahead of kick-off in Belgrade tonight.


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