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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 13 December, 2019
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IT’S A RETURN to Tallaght tonight for Stephen Kenny’s Irish U21s, a ground at which they’ve yet to even concede in this Euro 2021 qualification campaign.

Tonight they face Sweden, the side against whom they were so impressive in sealing a comeback 3-1 win away from home in September.

Sweden have responded well to that setback, mind. They put five past Iceland and three beyond Luxembourg, while Ireland have since drawn with Italy and spluttered to a defeat away to Iceland.

Kenny’s side got back to winning ways away to Armenia last Thursday, but have faced a marathon journey needing three separate flights to get home. Sweden, meanwhile, haven’t yet had a game in this international window.

So can Ireland extend their lead at the top of the group? Or will Sweden exact some revenge for the earlier game?

Follow our live coverage on The42 to find out.

Get in touch by emailing gavincooney@the42.ie or by tweeting @gcooney93.

Kick off is at 8pm, and some significant Irish team news is coming next…

Team News 

Having sat on the bench adjacent to and uninvolved in Ireland’s 1-1 draw with Denmark last night, Troy Parrott steps back down to the U21s and right back into Kenny’s starting line-up. 

Lee O’Connor is back involved too having also made his senior debut against New Zealand last week, while captain Jayson Molumby returns from suspension. 

With Dara O’Shea banned because of his sending off against Armenia last week, Conor Masterson’s return is timely. 

Here’s the team in full: 

As it stands 

Here’s how things look in Group 1 at the moment. Ireland are top but their opponents around them have a few games in hand. 

Capture

Some significant breaking news away from this game, although it might affect Parrott: 

Spurs have sacked Mauricio Pochettino. 

The full story will be on The42 soon. 

“We’re delighted to have him”, says Kenny of having Parrott back for tonight’s game. 

“Had he featured last night he wouldn’t have featured [tonight]. It’s an unusual situation but when a player of Troy’s quality comes available, you have to use him.” 

The teams come out of the tunnel before a pretty empty ground, it has to be said. 

The teams huddle as the Horslips blare over the PA system. Kick-off imminent… 

Kick-off!

1′ - Nervy moment for Ireland early on. Masterson took to long to clear the ball from his penalty area, and Irandust stole in ahead of him and threw himself to the ground as he stole the ball ahead of the defender. 

The referee is unmoved. 

2′ – Ireland 0-0 Sweden 

Adam Idah is leading the line for Ireland, with Parrott tucked in behind him as a No.10. 

4′ – Ireland 0-0 Sweden 

Lovely Swedish link-up play down the left is thwarted by a smart Nathan Collins block, and the visitors earn the game’s first corner.

5′ – Ireland 0-0 Sweden

Erlingmark meets the corner at the front post but flicks it well above the crossbar. 

7′ – Ireland 0-0 Sweden 

Sweden have started this game well, and are pressing Ireland high. Kenny’s side haven’t quite figured out how to play beyond that press just yet… 

11′ – Ireland 0-0 Sweden 

Much better by Ireland. Patient play down the left yields to a switch to the right and back again, and Ireland work the ball back to the right flank via Idah. Knight releases the overlapping O’Connor, whose cross is blocked behind for a corner. 

That corner goes short and Sweden deal with the danger – uncomfortably – as Björkengren steers the ball back to his goalkeeper. 

14′ – Ireland 0-0 Sweden 

Pretty humdrum stuff so far, but Ireland have settled into the game in these last few minutes. 

17′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden 

GOAL! 

Sweden hit it long this time, and finds Gyökeres wide left. He stands up Conor Masterson, cuts inside, and then whips a low shot into the bottom corner beyond Bazunu! 

19′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden 

Ireland’s response has been lively, and Knight wins a free-kick on the right wing. Thomas O’Connor’s flighted ball flicks off a Swedish head, and Ireland have a corner. 

20′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden

The corner is short and then lofted into the area by Thomas O’Connor, toward Nathan Collins. The centre-half wins it but it breaks to a couple of yellow shirts and Sweden clear. 

23′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden

Cracking defending by Lee O’Connor as he cuts out an through-ball that would have left Sweden on goal, and then sprints across to win the follow-up tackle. 

25′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden

Better from Ireland. Parrott draws a bunch of defenders and then smartly shifts the ball right for Knight, whose shot is blocked. 

27′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden

Oooh – terrific footwork by Parrott in the area. He beats three defenders, but his attempt to square the ball for Knight is intercepted and cleared behind. 

Molumby’s corner is claimed by goalkeeper Dahlberg. 

30′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden

Sweden main their threat, this time down the left through Gyokores. Lee O’Connor again makes a vital block from his cross, and Ireland clear. 

32′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden

Jayson Molumby struggling somewhat in midfield, coming back to this game after injury. He lost the ball too easily to Larsson, but isn’t punished when the Swedish forward overruns the ball and is tackled by Masterson. 

33′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden

Midfielder Erlingmark takes a pop from the edge of the box, but the shot bounces off Collins. Right-back Beijmo’s cross is floated too closely to Bazunu. 

35′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden

Now Larsson takes a shot from distance, but he skews it badly wide. Ireland cannot get a foothold here, it’s all Sweden. 

37′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden

That’s better from Ireland. Parrott sprays the ball wide for Lee O’Connor, whose brilliant cross into the box is headed away by a Swedish defender. 

The corner is deep and flapped at by the ‘keeper, but Molumby can’t control the dropping ball and the chance is lost. 

38′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden

Chance! Bazunu picks out Parrott galloping down the left. He leaves the defender for dead and pulls the ball back for Idah, who rifles a first-time effort into the side-netting! 

41′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden 

Collins gets away with a big error! Under no pressure at all, he passes the ball directly to Bjorkengen, but as the Swedish midfielder closes in on goal, he chooses to shoot from outside the box and the ball is gathered without any worry by Bazunu. 

43′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden

Ireland with some more defending to do – Masterson gets penalised for a clash with Irandust down the right flank. 

44′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden 

Almost a second for Sweden! 

It’s a clever set-piece routine, as they slide the ball down the side of an Irish defence waiting for the ball into the box. Cajuste, however, fires first-time into the side-netting. 

HT: Ireland 0-1 Sweden 

Kenny’s side trail at half-time, after a turbulent 45 minutes in which they’ve been outfought and outplayed by the Swedes for long stretches of the game. 

The best Irish chance fell to Adam Idah, but it is the Swedes who have created the better chances. 

There’s plenty of work to do if Ireland are going to rescue a 1-0 half-time deficit against the Swedes for the second time in the group. 

Back in a few!

Away from Tallaght – Wales are 2-0 up against Hungary in Cardiff. If they go on to win, it means Ireland will likely face Slovakia away from home in the play-offs for Euro 2020. 

The second half is underway!

Conor Ronan is on for Jayson Molumby, while Conor Masterson is replaced by Liam Scales. 

Molumby didn’t look fit; Masterson picked up a knock in the first half. 

46′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden

Better from Ireland already. Ronan spins the ball wide right for Elbouzedi – now wearing the armband – but his shot flies wide. 

Kenny has changed shape, too, to a 4-1-4-1. Coventry is sitting in front of the defence, with Parrott shifting to the left to accommodate Ronan and Knight inside. 

47′ – Ireland 0-1 Sweden

Ireland are playing with much more conviction, and Ronan has made an impact already. He flicks a delicious pass out to Elbouzedi, whose first-time cross narrowly evades Idah in the box. 

GOAL! 

49′ – Ireland 1-1 Sweden

And Ireland are level! Adam Idah skins Bjorkengen down the right and pulls the ballback toward the penalty spot, where Lee O’Connor pops up to sweep the ball into the top corner! 

Great finish! 

50′ – Ireland 1-1 Sweden

And Ireland attack again – Ronan to Parrott, whose attempted shot from the edge of the box is too close to the goalkeeper. 

53′ – Ireland 1-1 Sweden

Elbouzedi drives down the right wing and wins a throw. It’s all Ireland now! 

55′ – Ireland 1-1 Sweden

Ireland have upped the intensity as much as anything in this second half. Jason Knight’s tenacity wins a free-kick in the centre circle, which ends with an Idah cross that is well cleared by the Swedish defence. 

56′ – Ireland 1-1 Sweden 

Lovely, fluid movement by Ireland. Parrott drifts infield and then spins to pick out Ronan in acres of room down the flank. His cross is slightly behind Idah, though, and Sweden survive. 

58′ – Ireland 1-1 Sweden

Brilliant from Parrott – he tracks back into his own half to win a tackle and set Elbouzedi away, a move which ends in an Irish corner. The delivery is poor and cleared by the first man, but Ireland settle back into possession and win a throw-in down the right flank. 

59′ – Ireland 1-1 Sweden

Elbouzedi is causing havoc down Ireland’s right, having initially started on the opposite flank. His cross from open play is just too high for the arriving Idah, which is met by a thumbs up by Stephen Kenny. 

Ireland have been terrific since the break. 

GOAL! 

Ireland 2-1 Sweden

And there’s the lead Ireland deserve! Again Elbouzedi burns the Swedish left-back having collected the ball from Adam Idah, and then cuts the ball back for Idah again who bangs the ball low into the corner! 

65′ – Ireland 2-1 Sweden

Cracking goal by Idah, that’s almost eerily similar to O’Connor’s equaliser. Kenny’s half-time changes – most notably putting Elbouzedi wide right – have been totally justified so far. They have ran the first 20 minutes of this second half. 

Here’s the second goal, courtesy of the FAI. 

68′ – Ireland 2-1 Sweden

Ireland win a free-kick 30 yards from goal, which Parrott smashes over the crossbar. 

Idah wins another header and knocks it down to Conor Ronan. With Parrott running off his left, he checks back to his right and hits a shot right at goalkeeper Dahlberg. 

2760 is the attendance tonight, which is less than half of those who showed up for the Italian game. 

Elsewhere, Nathan Collins is booked for pulling back Gyökeres.

GOAL! 

72′ – Ireland 3-1 Sweden 

Parrott scores! Fabulous stuff form Ireland. Ronan – superb since coming on – takes the ball in midfield, spins and dinks the ball over the left-back for Parrott, who has time to take the ball down, nudge toward goal and curl the ball into the bottom corner! 

77′ – Ireland 3-1 Sweden

Ireland were poor in the first-half, but Kenny’s half-time changes have totally changed the game. Conor Coventry has dropped in front of the Irish defence and made a difference, while Ronan has been outstanding since coming on. Parrott and Elbouzedi, meanwhile, have found a lot of joy on either flank. 

They’ve totally dominated this second half. 

78′ – Ireland 3-1 Sweden

O’Connor’s right-wing cross finds Idah, who stoops but heads well wide. 

78′ – Ireland 3-1 Sweden

Almost a fourth! Lee O’Connor drives inside, slips Elbouzedi one-on-one, but the shot is blocked by Dahlberg. 

81′ – Ireland 3-1 Sweden 

Idah dances his way down the touchline but can’t pick out anyone in the penalty area to cap off some great play. Ireland are enjoying themselves out there now. 

83′ – Ireland 3-1 Sweden

Parrott scuppers a Swedish attack by making a tackle in the right back position, and Ireland break! 

Elbouzedi through for Idah, who pulls the ball back for Ronan, who flashes a shot wide! 

85′ – Ireland 3-1 Sweden 

A quick word for Parrott – he has dropped down from the senior squad and involvement in the country’s biggest game in two years, but his attitude tonight has been first-class and he’s run himself into the ground. 

Again he tracks back to the edge of his own area and sets Ireland off on the counter – Ronan’s cross for Idah narrowly comes to nothing. 

With that – Parrott is replaced with Gavin Kilkenny. What a talent he is. 

GOAL! 

Ireland 4-1 Sweden 

Ireland have run riot in the second half. Conor Ronan pounces on a loose ball, sprints to the byline, and squares the ball for Elbouzedi at the back post. 

stunning second-half performance! 

Adam Idah gets Man of the Match. 

He’s only been on since half-time, but it might well have been Connor Ronan. Or Parrott…or Lee O’Connor…or Elbouzedi. 

This second half has been a total joy. 

Idah makes way for Aidan Keena, and Jack Taylor comes on for Knight. 

Kenny has a massive grin on his face as they come off. 

Full-time: Ireland 4-1 Sweden 

Ireland didn’t really turn up for the first-half…and then made ribbons of the Swedes in the second once Connor Ronan came on. 

That second half was a true delight to watch, as Ireland march on. 

Thanks for following – report and reaction from Tallaght are on their way to The42.

Bye! 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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