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6 tackles, 5 aerials won: Tottenham talent sent a message with World Cup qualifying display

Brian Heffernan March 25, 2021
Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur full-back Matt Doherty sent a message to Jose Mourinho through his impressive display for the Republic of Ireland last night, despite suffering a 3-2 defeat in Serbia.

Ireland will have been disappointed to lose the game after making a great start, with Preston North End midfielder Alan Browne giving the Greens the lead in the 18th minute.

However, a finely worked equaliser was followed by a brace by Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, including a stunning chip over stranded Bournemouth goalkeeper Mark Travers.

And, despite a lifeline for Ireland through an 86th-minute James Collins strike, it was too little, too late.


One player who can certainly hold his head high was Doherty.

Despite a frustrating time at Tottenham in Mourinho’s flat back four, Doherty played his preferred right wing-back role for Ireland last night.

Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Doherty vs Serbia

The Spurs defender completed more tackles than any player on the pitch.

Doherty completed six out of six attempted tackles, with only West Brom’s Dara O’Shea getting close to the Tottenham star (four).

The Spurs man also won the joint-most aerial duels, matching Serbia centre-back Strahinja Pavlovic with five.

Doherty finished the match with a Whoscored rating of 7.2 out of 10, which was the joint-highest for an Ireland player alongside Browne.

Ireland will look to bounce back against Luxembourg on Saturday (7.45pm), although the Grand Duchy aren’t the whipping boys they once were.

Things have started to improve for Doherty in north London of late, registering three assists in his past nine outings.

Doherty will be keen to use the international break to continue that form and, more importantly, come back fully fit and healthy for Mourinho.

Tottenham travel to Newcastle on Sunday, 4 April for a 2.05pm kick-off.

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Brian Heffernan is head of recruitment at Horsham FC. He has also scouted for League Two and Danish clubs and worked freelance in the Russian Premier League. Brian’s work includes trialling and signing players and creating detailed opposition dossiers for first-team managers. He’s also a sports journalist specialising in football.