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Published: 20:29 | 27/5/16

Ireland and Netherlands draw

Shane Long nets opener, but Dutch level late

Shane Long netted his 16th international goal, as Ireland and the Netherlands played out a 1-1 draw at the Aviva Stadium on Friday.

Ireland seemed set for victory against Danny Blind's side after Long opened the scoring on the half-hour mark, but Netherlands substitute Luuk de Jong levelled with five minutes to go to take some of the gloss off an otherwise satisfying night for manager Martin O'Neill.

O'Neill opted for a diamond formation, with Long and David McGoldrick at the tip and Glenn Whelan at the base, and the Irish players seemed comfortable with the tactic against a Netherlands team containing eight of the players that started the 2-1 win over England at Wembley in March.

Long's pace, movement and ability to run the channels are crucial to make the diamond work, and so there were a few worried faces in the Ireland dugout when he limped off for treatment midway through the first half following a cynical Jeffrey Bruma tackle.

But the Southampton striker quickly returned to the field of play and soon calmed the nerves of the Irish medical team by netting the opener on 30 minutes.

It was a typical striker's finish too, a tap-in from point-blank range after a combination of Netherlands goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen and forward Vincent Janssen could only half stop John O'Shea's header from Robbie Brady's corner.

It will have impressed Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, who was spotted in the stands deep in conversation with Long's advisor Pat Dolan, prompting speculation that the 29-year-old may be a transfer target for Spurs this summer.

Brady, winning his 23rd cap, had arguably his best game for Ireland at left-back, and set up decent chances for Shane Duffy and Jon Walters at the start of the second half with his dead-eye set-pieces, while Darren Randolph was again impressive in goal and Harry Arter tidy in the central midfield of Ireland's diamond.

But Ireland lost their shape and their focus after O'Neill made changes midway through the second half, and the Dutch hit back to level through de Jong's close-range header from from Jetro Willems' cross from the left.

Ireland face Belarus on Tuesday in Cork in their final warm-up match before their Euro 2016 opener against Sweden at the Stade de France in Paris on 13 June.

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