The Republic of Ireland U-21’s have continued their impressive start to the 2021 UEFA U-21 European Championship qualification campaign. Stephen Kenny’s side secured all 3 points this evening from a tough away fixture vs Sweden. This evening’s result means that Ireland will end the September international break on top of their qualification group. It also means that Ireland’s perfect record for the campaign continues. The victory over Sweden gives Kenny’s side 3 wins from 3 games in their qualification campaign, so far.
Ireland got off to a far from perfect start away in the city of Kalmar. Midfielder, and team captain Matias Svanberg put Sweden a goal ahead in the 19th minute of the game. Sweden battened down the hatches and managed to hold onto their lead for the majority of the game. Early in the second half, Kenny made what would be an important substitution. Exciting Tottenham striker Troy Parrott was introduced at the expense of attacking midfield player, Daniel Mandroiu.
This substitution, and tactical switch, would pay off for the Irish. On the 69 minute mark, the ball fell to Parrott at the edge of the area. The 17 year old took his chance and fired home the equaliser for the patient Ireland side.
Ireland’s 50 minute wait for an equaliser was followed up by an equally nerve-wracking 30 minute wait for the next goal. However, just before stoppage time Ireland found themselves in the lead for the first time in the game. A well worked corner kick found the head of Conor Masterson whose movement had shaken off his marker. Masterson sent the ball flying past the Swedish goalkeeper and into the far corner of the net, at 87 minutes. The goal was met with a full team celebration, showing what this victory means to the promising U-21 side.
Kenny’s side secured themselves a deserved victory in the 87th minute. However, there was still time for one more piece of quality from the Irish side. Ireland found a lot more freedom in the final third once the Swedish were forced to attack, late on. Ireland had the opportunity to spring a counter-attack in the 92nd minute of the game. Troy Parrott got onto the end of a well placed pass, and found himself one on one with the keeper. Parrott subsequently executed an elegant chipped finish in stoppage time, to secure a 3-1 win for Kenny’s side.
Parrott’s composure and quality in front of goal were crucial in ensuring Ireland took all 3 points home from Kalmar. He is a very exciting prospect for Ireland fans, and at 17 years old, is already proving himself well capable of handling himself at a high level. Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has stated that his back-up striker this season is the 17 year old Irish youngster. His quality is evident for all to see, but as Ireland’s first-team assistant coach, Robbie Keane, has said, it is important for coaches to be careful with the young goalscorer. Expecting too much from young striker’s in crucial years of development can lead to injury problems and, ultimately, shortened careers. Parrott has already earned comparisons to Ireland and Tottenham legend Keane, however, Irish fans should be patient before expecting to see the youngster thrust into the senior squad.
For now, the 17 year old will almost certainly be in the plans of U-21 boss Stephen Kenny as he hopes to continue his team’s perfect record in the European Championship qualification campaign. Ireland’s U-21’s will host Italy next month. After that, Kenny’s side will travel to Iceland to complete October’s international break. If the Irish side can make it through October unscathed, they will be the team to beat in their group.
FT | Sweden 1-3 #IRLU21🇮🇪
Pure 🔥 as Stephen Kenny's side turn on the style in Sweden 👏
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) September 10, 2019