Aiden O’Brien hits two as Irish put five past Faroes in Sligo
All seven goals come in the first half of qualifier at Showgrounds
Republic of Ireland’s Jack Grealish (centre) celebrates scoring his side’s third goal with Samir Carruthers and Anthony Forde during the Uefa under-21 qualifier at The Showgrounds in Sligo. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Republic of Ireland U21 5 Faroe Islands U21 2: Aiden O’Brien claimed a double as the Republic of Ireland under-21s staged an early blitz to see off the Faroe Islands 5-2 in Sligo.
The 20-year-old Millwall frontman struck after 20 minutes and then again three minutes before the break in a remarkable first half at the Showgrounds.
But Gunnar Zachariasen pulled one back for the visitors within seconds, and the Faroes’ hopes of mounting a fightback improved significantly when defender Ragnar Nattestad was fouled by Ireland skipper Shane Duffy inside the box and referee Alexandr Aliyev pointed to the spot.
Zachariasen duly obliged from 12 yards to make it 3-2 with eight minutes of the opening 45 still to play.
However, Noel King’s men regained a measure of control within two minutes when Anthony Forde’s first goal for the under-21s gave them breathing space once again, and O’Brien’s second sent them in at the break with their three-goal advantage re-established.
The second half proved to be something of an anti-climax by comparison as both sides had chances, but respective goalkeepers Seán McDermott and Teitur Gestson escaped without further mishap.
Victory completed a double for the Irish over the Faroes and took their Group Six points tally to seven from five games on a day when runaway leaders Germany needed a late equaliser in Montenegro to snatch a 1-1 draw as they surrendered their 100 per cent record.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: McDermott, O’Connor, Duffy, Williams (Dunne 63 mins), McGinty, Carruthers, Reilly, Murray (O’Sullivan 74 mins), Forde, O’Brien (Hayhurst 82 mins),Grealish. Subs not used: McCarey, Harriman, Egan, Shaughnessy.
FAROE ISLANDS: Gestson, Bardur Hansen, Pal Joensen, Nattestad, Rene Joensen, Fredriksberg (Ellingsgaard 56 mins), Jensen (Petersen 46 mins), Hedin Hansen, Olsen, Gilli Sorensen, Zachariasen (Kalso 84 mins). Subs not used: Hallgrimur Hansen, Rogvi Joensen, Gustav Sorensen, Vagsheyg. Booked: Olsen.
Referee: Alexandr Aliyev (Almaty)