Irish Under-21s come from a goal down to overrun Sweden
Stephen Kenny’s team maintained their three point advantage over Italy
Republic of Ireland’s Adam Idah celebrates scoring against Sweden. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Republic of Ireland 4 Sweden 1
Ireland again came from a goal down to comprehensively beat Sweden in their European Championship qualifier in Tallaght. Second half strikes from Lee O’Connor, Adam Idah, Troy Parrott and Zachary Elbouzedi maintained the side’s three point advantage over Italy in the Group One table.
The home side were utterly rampant through the latter stages of the game with the likes of O’Connor, half-time substitute Connor Ronan and Elbouzedi tearing an increasingly dispirited-looking Sweden side apart from the two flanks.
Idah picked up the Man of the Match award but there were quite a few contenders as Stephen Kenny’s team blew their opponents away with the speed of their passing and movement in what was (towards the end) an increasingly playful performance.
By the time August Erlingmark was booked in the closing minutes for a foul on Lee O’Connor, who had just nutmegged him, it was difficult not to have some sympathy for a side that had come to Dublin looking to revive their own qualification hopes and who seemed to be making a half decent crack at it through the opening stages.
O’Connor and Parrott had both started after their spells with the senior squad while Jayson Molumby also returned having missed the win in Armenia through suspension.
Ireland had needed the win here to keep that daylight between themselves and the Italians who started the night three points adrift but with two games in hand while the Swedes really had to win if they were to play their way back into contention after having lost at home to Kenny’s side in September.
It was they who had comfortably the better of the opening exchanges, helped by a handful of unforced errors by the Irish inside their own half and they took the lead 18 minutes in when Lee O’Connor lost possession during a run forward.
The ball was quickly pushed into the space behind him where Viktor Gyokeres did very well to turn inside Nathan Collins and drive the ball beyond Gavin Bazunu.
Parrott, playing in the middle of the three behind Adam Idah, was initially quiet but provided a reminder of the threat he posed when Ireland countered late in the half with the Spurs striker getting on to a long clearance, showing his strength to hold off a determined challenge then picking out Idah who had made a great turn to the near post. The Corkman’s shot, though, flew narrowly wide.
In the first game between the two sides his introduction into the game as a second half substitute had had a huge impact with the striker scoring twice as Kenny’s side came from behind to win 3-1. Here, with his team looking slugging and a little fortunate to only be one down at the break, the manager again intervened.
Conor Masterson, who had been injured early on was replaced by Liam Scales in a straight swap while Ronan coming on for Molumby facilitated a rejig up front with Parrott making way by shifting to the left and Zachary Elbouzedi switching sides. Ronan immediately injected energy up front and went on to have a huge impact while Jason Knight immediately started to put himself about around central midfield and the tide was comprehensively turned.
Republic of Ireland: Bazunu (Manchester City); L O’Connor (Celtic), Collins (Stoke City), Masterson (QPR), T O’Connor (Gillingham); Molumby (Millwall), Coventry (West Ham); Knight (Derby County), Parrott (Tottenham Hotspur), Elbouzedi (Waterford); Idah (Norwich). Subs: Ronan (Dunajska Streda) for Molumby and Scales (UCD) for Masterson (both half-time), Kilkenny (Bournemouth) for Parrott (86 mins), Keena (Hearts) for Idah and Taylor (Barnet) for Knight (90+2 mins)
Sweden: Dahlberg; Beijmo, Ahmedhodzic, Hadzikadunic, bjorkengren; Larsson, Erlingmark, Cajuste, Ingelsson; Irandust, Gyokeres. Subs: Kimpioka for Larsson (75 mins), Hansson for Ingelsson (84 mins).
Referee: K Abed (France).