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An own goal and a late Ross Tierney winner helped Jim Crawford’s side to victory.
Ireland under-21s came out on top in Marbella this afternoon against the Australian Olympic (under-23s) side, securing a 2-1 win thanks to a late Ross Tierney winner.
There were six changes in the Ireland side after suffering a 2-0 loss to Switzerland’s under-21s last Sunday. Andy Lyons, Gavin Kilkenny, Conor Noß, Jonathan Afolabi, Will Ferry and Luca Connell all came into the starting XI having started on the bench in the previous fixture.
There wasn’t much to discuss from an Irish perspective in the first-half. The flow of the half was very much stop-start, but Australia undoubtedly had the better opportunities.
Panos Armenakas came closest in the first half, hitting the post from inside the box which would of surely been the opener had it been just a few inches to the right.
Australia had a handful of other half-chances, none of which truly troubled St Pat’s man Brian Maher in the Ireland goal.
The first-half ended scoreless in what was a scrappy encounter to that point.
Celtic striker Jonathan Afolabi looked isolated up front throughout the half which likely resulted in his substitution going into the second half, on came Rotherham United frontman JJ Kayode who had started against Switzerland.
Noticeable changes were immediate from the restart with Ireland playing with more intensity and urgency as well as looking more assured in possession of the ball.
Their new-found confidence paid off in the 57th minute as they got the opening. Australian defender Jay Rich put the ball into his own net after some good work from Ireland. The combination of Conor Noß’s dangerous low cross and JJ Kayode’s looming presence behind him forced the defender to stick out a leg which ended up in the back of the net.
Two of Ireland’s best players against Switzerland, Ryan Johansson and Tyreik Wright, came on for Gavin Kilkenny and Louie Watson just minutes later.
Johansson’s quality on the ball was immediately evident, but his work off the ball very well could have resulted in another Ireland goal. His pressing created momentary panic for the Australian ‘keeper but he managed to get it out of his feet just before Johansson could close in and potentially get his first goal for Ireland.
There was a water break around the 70-minute mark, and maybe one which Ireland could have done without. The Irish side switched off after the break and a lapse in concentration allowed Australia to steal the ball before Ramy Najjarine accurately placed the ball into the top left-hand corner, nothing Brian Maher could do about it.
Bohemians’ man Ross Tierney came on with just minutes left and his contribution would be telling. After some brilliant running down the left-flank and a pinpoint cross by Tyreik Wright, the Bohs’ man applied the finishing touches with a bullet header into the top of the net. It was Tierney’s first touch as an Ireland under-21 player, and what a touch it proved to be.
Ireland won the game 2-1 after Tierney’s late winner. Although just a friendly match, this result will give the under-21s confidence going into their final game against Denmark under-21s on Saturday.
Ross Tierney heads in Tyreik Wright's cross for a DRAMATIC late winner for Ireland! 😱🇮🇪
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) June 2, 2021