Switzerland have too much for Ireland Under-21s in Marbella

Jim Crawford’s side comprehensively beaten in the first of three friendly fixtures this week

Switzerland striker Gabriel Bares scored his side’s second in their 2-0 win over Ireland. Photograph: Janvier Gonzalez Vazquez/Inpho

Switzerland striker Gabriel Bares scored his side’s second in their 2-0 win over Ireland. Photograph: Janvier Gonzalez Vazquez/Inpho

 

Republic of Ireland 0 Switzerland 2

Switzerland had too much nous for Ireland’s young guns as they scored in each half to inflict defeat on Jim Crawford’s Under-21’s on Sunday.

In the first of three games in Marbella this week, Ireland reacted well to falling behind to Leonidas Stergiou’s opener on 12 minutes but their failure to take chances cost them as sub Gabriel Bares added a 52nd-minute second to crown a deserved Swiss victory.

Ireland have two more workouts, against Australia on Wednesday and Denmark on Saturday, before their 2023 European Championship begins in September with an away double-header in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Luxembourg.

Crawford handed debuts to starters Oisin McEntee, Festy Ebosele, Lewis Richards and Ryan Johansson, with a fifth, Leicester City’s Shane Flynn, appearing off the bench in the second half as he attempted to broaden his pool ahead of the competitive series.

The Swiss had six members of their squad which reached the European Under-21 finals in March within their ranks. They included Alex Jankewitz, the midfielder infamously sent off two minutes into his Southampton debut in the 9-0 walloping by Manchester United in February.

Stergiou, a regular with recently-crowned Swiss Cup winners St Gallen, was another of their experienced cohort and the defender pounced to bundle the ball home when Ireland failed to deal with a free-kick into the box.

With Jankewitz dominating midfield, Ireland were struggling for fluency and almost fell further behind when Kastriot Imer’s shot flew a yard over.

That was the cue for the Boys in Green to come alive and Tyriek Wright had a penalty claim rejected when he was bundled over in the box.

Ireland forced six corners in the 11 minutes heading into the break, creating excellent chances from two of them.

Oisin McEntee couldn’t angle his header on target from Wright’s cross, while the Aston Villa winger himself fizzed a shot wide following a rehearsed corner from Louie Watson to the near post.

That would be as much as Ireland could conjure from the attacking standpoint, as they didn’t get much joy up front in the second half.

Imer’s raid from just inside Ireland’s half was halted by a late challenge by Festy Ebosele but the referee played advantage, allowing substitute Gabriel Bares to crack a shot straight inside Brian Maher’s near post for the second.

Bares might have notched a couple more, while only a brilliant one-handed save by Maher from Christopher Lungoyi’s close-range volley prevented a more comprehensive winning margin.

Ireland: B Maher; F Ebosele (S Flynn 77), M McGuinness, O McEntee, L Richards (G Kilkenny 57); C Coventry (L Connell 71), R Johansson (C Noss 46); L Watson (A Gilbert 70), C Grant (W Ferry 57), T Wright; JJ Kayode (J Afolabi 57).

Switzerland: Saipi; Gantenbeim, Stergiou, Burch, Kronig; Sohm; Jankewitz, Males, Imeri, Mambinbi; Stojilkovic.

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