Northern Ireland failed to take their chances and had to settle for a 0-0 draw in the friendly match against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.
Two fantastic saves by Republic keeper Darren Randolph prevented wingers Gavin Whyte and Jordan Jones from taking good opportunities for the visitors.
Shane Duffy had the best chance for the home side but his first-half header was saved by Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
It was a fifth draw in 11 meetings between the sides.
The result means Northern Ireland have won just twice in 12 games, having lost all three of their opening Nations League Group B3 matches.
With Austria having drawn on Thursday night with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Michael O’Neill’s men are relegated from the group before they play their final match against the Austrians at Windsor Park on Sunday.
The Republic’s recent form has not been much better, with a 2-1 friendly victory over the USA in June now their only victory in their last 10 outings.
They are bottom of their Group B4 Nations League table, having drawn one and lost two of their three matches and will complete their campaign with a trip to Denmark on Monday.
Randolph to Republic’s rescue
Northern Ireland have been creating plenty of chances in recent matches without taking them and that was the case again in Thursday’s friendly.
Oxford United winger Whyte had the first big opportunity of the night in the 14th minute when Liam Boyce released Stuart Dallas down the left with a hooked pass and he showed great composure to square the ball to Whyte.
The former Crusaders man, who has been in fine form since joining Oxford in the summer, took a touch and Randolph raced off his line to make a superb save at his feet.
Randolph had to show all of his awareness again in the 72nd minute to ensure a terrible mistake by defender Darragh Lenihan did not lead to a crucial goal.
Kilmarnock player Jones was not long off the bench when he pounced to rob Lenihan of possession to go through on goal, but his shot was too close to the advancing Middlesbrough keeper who once again made an excellent save.
Dallas shines for Northern Ireland
Playing on the left of Northern Ireland’s front three, Stuart Dallas was in sparkling form, particularly in the first half.
The Leeds United man is always full of running for his country and that was the case once more as he made sure Republic captain Seamus Coleman had a busy night on his return to international football after a long-term absence.
The 27-year-old former Crusaders man showed great composure in the 14th minute to set up Whyte for his great chance – and twice came close to scoring himself.
He curled an effort from the edge of the box just wide on 25 minutes and four minutes before half-time he was played in down the left by Davis. He beat Lenihan for pace and advanced into the box before curling a low effort that just didn’t have enough power and was saved well by Randolph.
Republic lacking firepower
Scoring goals had been a major problem for both sides coming into this friendly and hitting the net once again eluded them.
Of the six strikers named by Martin O’Neill in the Republic squad, a single Aiden O’Brien goal was all they had between them on the international stage, which perhaps helps explain why they have now scored only five goals in 10 matches.
Ronan Curtis has been finding the net for Portsmouth this season and came on for his international debut at half-time. The former Derry City man looked lively but could not carve out a goalscoring opportunity.
Their best chance of the night fell to Brighton defender Duffy in the 21st minute from a dangerous free-kick by Robbie Brady, who was making his first international appearance for a year after a serious knee injury.
Duffy rose well to get his head to the cross but he planted his effort straight into the ground, with the ball looping towards goal and visiting goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell tipping over the crossbar.
The key stats
- Republic of Ireland have lost only one of their last nine international matches against Northern Ireland (W4 D4) – a 1-0 loss at home in May 1999.
- Republic of Ireland have won just one of their last 10 matches in all competitions (D4 L5) and are winless in their last five (D3 L2) since a 2-1 victory against the USA back in June.
- Northern Ireland have won just two of their last 12 games in all competitions (D3 L7) scoring just seven goals and conceding 14 during this period.
- Northern Ireland have failed to score in any of their last seven away games (D2 L5), a run dating back to October 2017 – they last went longer without a goal away from home between May 1981 and October 1983 (run of nine).