11.06.2013 at 15:00 Yankee Stadium
2 - 0
Republic of Ireland
Soldado 68 Mins;
Mata 88 mins,
Sean St Ledger
Paul Mc Shane
James Mc Carthy
Spain 2 Republic of Ireland 0
Ireland finished the four game end of season series with a narrow defeat to World and European champions Spain at Yankee Stadium, New York, in front of a crowd of 39,368.
Second half goals from Roberto Soldado and Juan Mata delivered a win for a Spanish side that included nine players from Barcelona in its starting line-up and provided them with a confidence boost ahead of the Confederations Cup, where they take on Uruguay on June 16.
Ireland not at full strength, were missing a number of key players but were nonetheless looking to restore some pride after the 4-0 defeat to the European and World Champions at EURO 2012.
Spain opened patiently, passing the ball at will, with Ireland's players left chasing shadows. Pedro nearly opened the scoring in the fourth minute from just inside the area but his shot was deflected well left off Paul McShane's back.
Ireland came into the game shortly after when Coleman broke after being put through by Robbie Keane only to be brought down by Pedro. McCarthy played a clever free kick out to Coleman on the wing who caught the Spanish with his speed, delivering a good cross from the corner that Hendrick put over the bar.
In the 18th minute Spain went very close when Xavi was allowed to advance unchallenged into the box firing a low effort to the right of Forde that was cleared off the line by a vigilant McCarthy.
Five minutes later, Spain went very close again from a corner after David Forde caught a ball that was already going out. Sergio Ramos got on the end of it in the six yard box and his shot was blocked by St Ledger who did excellently to stay on his feet and block the rebound from an awaiting Pique.
In the 26th minute Conor Sammon caught Pique unaware in defence and broke through with no one in support one on one against Valdes, only to shoot just past the post across goal form a narrow angle.
Despite Spanish superiority in possession, McCarthy and Hendrick were working hard for the team and showed some moments of quality albeit under pressure from a fast passing Spanish side.
However Spain came very close three times in the remainder of the first half with Ireland forced to play increasingly deep. Pedro almost scored in the 31st after he was played through by Villa. In the 38th minute David Silva played Villa through one on one against Forde who did well to get down and smother the shot. The best chance of the first half followed five minutes before the end when Pedro dazzled the Irish defence with his trickery and fired off a great strike that was denied only by the crossbar, the ball falling for Silva who looked frustrated with a poor effort sent high into the stands of Yankee Stadium.
The Republic of Ireland had done well to survive the Spanish onslaught and went into the dressing rooms at half time with a clean sheet.
Each side made one substitution at half time with Silva making way for Navas and Stephen Quinn making his debut for Ireland in place of Jeff Hendrick. Ireland started the second half well, growing into the game and retaining more possession in midfield thanks to some good work from Seamus Coleman. In the 56th minute, Giovanni Trapattoni took off Robbie Keane replacing him with Simon Cox. Three minutes later Spain made wholesale changes, showing the incredible depth of their squad with Casillas coming in for Valdes in goal, Fabergas coming in for Iniesta and Soldado coming in for David Villa.
Ireland's defence continued to look well marshalled and did well to repel a constantly probing Spanish midfield with all of the players pressing hard but by the 68th minute the pressure was to much when Arbeloa toe tapped the ball neatly a few yards through the defence into the path of an unmarked Roberto Soldado on the edge of the box who connected with a sweet volley sent low to the right of an outstretched David Forde and into the net.
Randolph and McClean came in for Forde and Keogh in the 73rd minute.
McClean made a good impact and in the 79th minute, he was put through one on one against Casillas thanks to a well-timed pass from Conor Sammon, his effort well saved by the Spanish keeper. A minute later, Irish hearts soared when St Ledger poked home a loose ball into the Spanish net but Ireland were left in disbelief when it was chalked off for an apparent offside on Cox.
Spain scored again to finish the game 2-0 in the 88th after Cazorla played Juan Mata through and he calmly slotted it past Randolph to make it 2-0. Despite the result, Ireland will have grown from the experience with a lot of new players showing good promise for the future.
Spain: Victor Valdés (Casillas, 58) , Gerard Piqué, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Álvaro Arbeloa, Andrés Iniesta (Fabergas 58), Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Pedro (Cazorla, 79), David Villa (Soldado), David Silva (Navas 46)
Republic of Ireland: David Forde (Randolph, 73), Paul McShane, Sean St. Ledger, Stephen Kelly (Delaney, 88), Darren O'Dea, Andy Keogh (James McClean, 73), James McCarthy (Meyler ,85), Jeff Hendrick (Quinn, 46) Seamus Coleman, Robbie Keane (Simon Cox, 56), Conor Sammon.