12.10.2007 at 17:30 Uppsala
Referee: Tomasz Mikulski (Poland)
Under-21 International Friendly Match
Sweden 2 - 3 Rep of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland played a stylish brand of football as they deservedly won this friendly match in Uppsala, Sweden tonight.
Next up for Don Givens’ team is the visit of England to Turner’s Cross on Tuesday for a vital UEFA Championship qualifier and they will buoyed by this display of guile and inventiveness.
Sheffield United midfielder Stephen Quinn put Ireland in front but the hosts equalised early in the second half. Substitute Alan Sheehan restored Ireland’s lead just past the hour mark before Aidan Downes popped up to score on his debut.
The home side carved the game’s first chance on 15 minutes when the ball broke in the box and Sebastian Castro-Tello was allowed to fire a powerful volley. However, the shot sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.
Four minutes later, Ireland broke the deadlock. Eddie Nolan played a superb one-two with debutant Aidan Downes and then released Stephen Quinn, who slotted the ball underneath Par Hansson in the Swedish goal from eight yards.
The goal sparked the game into life and both sides created several chances to add to the scoreboard.
Swedish striker Johan Oremo could have leveled matters on 21 minutes when he found himself one-on-one with Darren Randolph. However, the Swede hesitated and Randolph did well to get down and block his effort.
Shortly after, Downes was to go close to extending Ireland’s lead. The young Everton striker found space after receiving the ball from Anthony Stokes but his effort was saved by Hansson.
The Swedish goalkeeper came to his country’s rescue on 26 minutes. A long ball over the top released Jim O’Brien but Hansson was quick off his line and managed to clear the danger.
Four minutes later Sweden should have pulled level. Again it was Oremo who found himself in the perfect position, but once again the striker’s finishing failed him. Marcus Berg drilled the ball in from the left and Oremo, four yards from goal, somehow directed his shot wide of the Irish goal.
Berg himself could have got his name on the scoresheet on 31 minutes. Under pressure from O’Dea, the FC Groningen forward did well to turn and unleash a snap shot that trailed wide.
A remarkable sequence of events deprived Sweden of an equaliser on 39 minutes. First, Berg’s shot was brilliantly turned onto the post by Randolph and then, when the rebound fell to Christer Youssef, Spillane jumped across an open goal and somehow directed the shot onto the crossbar, from where it bounced out and was put behind from a corner.
The Swedes were still scratching their heads one minute later when Randolph again showed his class, this time by producing a wonderful save from Berg when the striker found himself one-on-one with the young Charlton Athletic goalkeeper.
The Irish goal was living something of a charmed life but Don Givens’ side still went into the break with a one goal advantage.
However, within ten minutes of the restart the home side was level. Berg was put through wide on the left and Stephen Henderson – introduced in place on Darren Randolph at half time – did well to push his shot clear.
Unfortunately for the Irish, however, the loose ball fell to Oremo who made no mistake
from seven yards.
Sligo Rovers full back Seamus Coleman was introduced into the game on 58 minutes, becoming the fourth Irish substitute following the half-time introductions of Henderson, Alan Sheehan and Alan Power.
And the new-look Irish side soon regained the upper hand in the match. On 62 minutes Aidan Downes released Stokes down the right and the Sunderland striker picked out Jim O’Brien. The young Celtic striker’s shot was blocked but half-time substitute Alan Sheehan did brilliantly to steer the ball home with a diving header.
The hosts barely had time to react to going behind when they found themselves with a two-goal deficit.
Aidan Downes blocked an attempted clearance and then spun and fired a wonderful chip from 20 yards that Hansson could only divert into the roof of his own net.
The goals kept coming and Sweden reduced the arrears to one on 86 minutes when Pontus Wernbloom’s powerful header from six yards left Henderson with no chance.
A riveting match ended with Ireland keeping matters under control and holding out for a morale-boosting win.
Sweden: Par Hansson; Tom Siwe, Mattias Bjarsmyr, Gustav Svensson, Andreas Wihlborg; Robert Ahman-Persson, Sebastian Castro-Tello, Rasmus Elm, Christer Youssef; Marcus Berg, Johan Oremo
Substitutions: Johan Dahlin for Siwe (69 mins), Emir Bajrami for Youssef (69 mins) Pontus Wernbloom for Berg (80 mins) and Ola Toivonen for Oremo (80 mins).
Republic of Ireland: Darren Randolph (Charlton Athletic); Eddie Nolan (Blackburn Rovers), Michael Spillane (Norwich City), Darren O’Dea (Celtic) (capt.), Stephen O’Halloran (Aston Villa); Patrick Cregg (Falkirk), Owen Garvan (Ipswich Town), Stephen Quinn (Sheffield United); Jim O’Brien (Celtic), Aidan Downes (Everton), Anthony Stokes (Sunderland)
Substitutions: Stephen Henderson (Bristol City) for Randolph (46 mins), Alan Sheehan (Leicester City) for Quinn (46 mins), Alan Power (Nottingham Forest) for Garvan (46 mins), Seamus Coleman (Sligo Rovers) for Nolan (58 mins), Alan Judge (Blackburn Rovers) for O’Brien (68 mins).
Referee: Tomasz Mikulski (Poland) Assistants: Piotr Sadczuk (Poland) and Kinga Seniuk (Poland). Fourth Official: Daniel Warnmark (Sweden).