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Dublin: 6°C Tuesday 1 December 2020

Troy Parrott ends memorable few days in style, as impressive Ireland put 4 past Sweden in Tallaght

Lee O’Connor, Adam Idah and Zach Elbouzedi were also on target for Stephen Kenny’s side.

Ireland players celebrate a goal.
Ireland players celebrate a goal.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

TROY PARROTT CAPPED a momentous few days with a goal, as a superb second-half display saw Ireland beat Sweden 4-1 to end 2019 on a high.

Ireland produced a lethargic first-half display in this U21 Euro 2021 qualifier, and while Sweden also rarely threatened in the opening 45, they took the lead thanks to Viktor Gyokeres’ clinical finish amid a swift counter-attack.

Stephen Kenny’s side delivered a much-improved performance after the break and ultimately tore the Swedes to shreds.

Connor Ronan’s half-time introduction added greater creativity to Ireland’s midfield, with well-taken goals from man-of-the-match Adam Idah, Lee O’Connor, Troy Parrott and Zach Elbouzedi ultimately saw them prevail comfortably.

It ended a particularly memorable week for O’Connor and Parrott, both of whom made their senior debuts against New Zealand last week.

Ireland went in to the game top of Group 1 on 13 points after six games, though with at least one game more played than all their rivals

Sweden, for instance, had played just three matches before tonight, with their only loss suffered at home to Ireland, as Kenny’s side secured a hard-fought 3-1 victory in Kalmar. 

24 hours after watching on from the bench as Ireland drew 1-1 with Denmark, Parrott was handed a surprise start after returning to the team.

Another player who recently became a senior international, O’Connor, came straight back into the team, while Conor Masterson returned for the suspended Dara O’Shea after missing the Armenia game through injury.

Both sides struggled to create chances amid a scrappy opening. The hosts, though, appeared to gradually gain control, with Conor Coventry and Jayson Molumby seeing plenty of the ball and dictating play.

Out of nothing though, Sweden took the lead on 18 minutes. O’Connor was dispossessed on the right wing and the visitors countered. Viktor Gyokeres received the ball down the left, cut inside Nathan Collins and fired an unstoppable shot into the far corner of the net.

Ireland took a while to recover from that setback but had one promising moment just before the half-hour mark, as Parrott threatened to wriggle away from a couple of players before eventually being crowded out.

The home side continued to toil, but initially lacked the wit and sharpness they previously displayed in the campaign. Some players seemed sluggish, before being rejuvenated after the break.

The crowd came alive eight minutes before half-time though, as Parrott showed Anel Ahmedhodzic a clean pair of heels down the left wing. The Spurs man’s low cross found the onrushing Adam Idah, but the Norwich youngster’s first-time shot could only find the side netting.

The Swedes then almost doubled their advantage just before half-time. A well-worked free kick saw Daleho Irandust play a low ball in to Jake Larsson, whose first-time shot went arrowly wide.

Ireland were dealt a further blow at half-time. Conor Masterson, who picked up a knock in the first half, was replaced by UCD’s Liam Scales. Meanwhile, captain Molumby, who had been a doubt going into the game, was also taken off, with Connor Ronan coming on in his place.

stephen-kenny Stephen Kenny watches on. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Straight away as the second half began, Ronan played it to Elbouzedi on the break, but the Waterford man could not find the target with his drilled shot from a tight angle.

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Ireland equalised moments later though. Adam Idah escaped the attentions of John Bjorkengren. The striker’s cross was then converted coolly by O’Connor to get his team back in the game.

The goal visibly boosted Ireland, as they improved immensely in the second half. Ronan, in particular, was making a difference, showing some nice touches after being introduced.

They went close on the hour mark. After a surging run forward from the imposing Scales, Elbouzedi whipped in a cross that missed the head of Idah by a matter of inches.

The Norwich starlet was not to be denied moments later though. Elbouzedi beat Bjorkengren down the right and the winger’s cross was fired home by Idah for his third goal of the campaign and first since the opening win over Luxembourg.

As Sweden pushed bodies forward, they were hit on the counter-attack after 73 minutes. Ronan produced a super pass that the defender’s header only deflected into the path of the onrushing Parrott. The Tottenham youngster then curled the ball home into the corner of the net from the edge of the area to give the Irish some breathing space.

Kenny’s side continued to push for a goal despite their healthy advantage, and went close again with 10 minutes to go. O’Connor played through Elbouzedi, whose shot was saved by the feet of Pontus Dahlberg, before being headed over the bar by a relieved Swedish defender.

They nearly scored again in the 83rd minute.  Elbouzedi burst towards goal before playing it to Idah, whose cutback was fired just wide by Ronan.

Parrott was then replaced in the dying stages, going off to appreciative cheers from the crowd after a momentous few days that the 17-year-old won’t forget too soon.

The crowd’s roars did not end there. Ronan broke free down the left and crossed for Elbouzedi, who slotted home for a goal his lively performance deserved. It was the icing on the cake, as Ireland and Kenny reflect on a largely positive night and 2019 campaign in general, as they consolidated their place at the top of the group.

Ireland: 1. Gavin Bazunu 2. Lee O’Connor 4. Conor Masterson (Scales ’46) 5. Nathan Collins 18. Thomas O’Connor 6. Conor Coventry 8. Jayson Molumby (c) (Ronan ’46) 15. Troy Parrott (Kilkenny ’86) 12. Jason Knight (Taylor ’90) 7. Zack Elbouzedi 9. Adam Idah (Keena ’90)

Subs: 23. Conor Kearns 21. Liam Scales 16. Jack Taylor 20. Danny McNamara 10. Connor Ronan 17. Gavin Kilkenny 11. Danny Grant, 14. Dan Mandroiu 19. Aidan Keena.

Sweden: 1. Pontus Dahlberg 2. Felix Beijmo 3. Dennis Hadzikadunic 6. Svante Ingelsson (c) (Hansson ’84)   8. August Erlingmark 10. Viktor Gyokeres 13. John Bjorkengren 14. Anel Ahmedhodzic 15. Jens-Lys Cajuste 18. Jake Larsson (Kimpioka ’76)  19. Daleho Irandust

Subs: 12. Viktor Johansson Nil4. Hugo Andersson 5. Thomas Isherwood 7. Emil Hansson 9. Nils Froling 11. Benjamin Mbunga Kimpioka 16. Kristopher Da Graca 17. Bilal Hussein 20. Max Svensson

Referee: Karim Abed (FRA)

Attendance: 2,760

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy  / reports from Tallaght Stadium

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