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Stephen Kenny hails 'outstanding' Ireland U21 side after superb win in Sweden

Ireland came from behind to record a 3-1 victory in this evening’s European Championship qualifier.

imago-20190910 Nils Froling of Sweden under pressure from Ireland's Gavin Kilkenny and Jayson Molumby. Source: Imago/PA Images

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND U21 manager Stephen Kenny was understandably full of praise for his players in the aftermath of a very impressive win in Sweden this evening.

Despite falling behind to a long-range Mattias Svanberg strike in the 19th minute, Ireland rallied in the second half to record a 3-1 victory, which maintains their 100% start to the qualifying campaign for the 2021 European Championship.

Ireland, who had already beaten Luxembourg and Armenia at home, equalised in the 69th minute through substitute Troy Parrott, who scored just moments after Aaron Connolly had a penalty saved by Sweden goalkeeper Pontus Dahlberg.

Kenny’s side looked more likely to go in front, and they did so on 87 minutes when QPR centre-back Conor Masterson got his head to Jayson Molumby’s corner.

Parrott, the highly-rated Tottenham youngster who scored the winner against Armenia on Friday, helped himself to another goal in stoppage time with a sublime finish.

“I have so much admiration for the players in the manner of their performance, because they’ve shown incredible courage,” Kenny told the FAI’s media team.

“There’s only so many setbacks you can have in a game. Sweden got a brilliant goal, to be fair. But from that period on, we were quite dominant. We were very disappointed not to go in at half-time at least level.

“We got the penalty kick and the Swedish goalkeeper had an amazing game, he made some incredible saves, another one from Aaron Connolly’s penalty.

“We were still 1-0 down at that stage so for the players to drive on, get the equaliser and not settle for that; to go on with 10 minutes to go and say ‘no, we’re not settling for it, it could be a good point but we want to go and win the game.’

“We kept playing, the midfield were very influential in that period and created so many chances. That’s a great sign. I think the players were outstanding tonight overall.”

imago-20190910 Ireland's Conor Masterson tangles with Mbunga Kimpioka of Sweden. Source: Imago/PA Images

Kenny expressed his delight with his goalscorers, before his attention turns to the visit of Italy to Tallaght Stadium on 10 October.

“Troy Parrott was amazing to get the two goals that he did — two phenomenal goals. It’s great to witness that here, to see him come on and score two goals like that.

“Conor Masterson, on his 21st birthday, to score — it was the best game I’ve ever seen him play, to be honest. He did really well. I’m delighted with the team.” 

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Paul Dollery

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