O'Brien brace seals U21 win over Faroes
Aiden O'Brien claimed a double as the Republic of Ireland Under-21s staged an early blitz to see off the Faroe Islands 5-2.
The 20-year-old Millwall frontman struck after 20 minutes and then again three minutes before the break in a remarkable first half at the Showgrounds in Sligo.
Samir Carruthers had given Ireland a 17th-minute lead before O'Brien opened his account, and a third from Jack Grealish had the game all but won with just 25 minutes played.
But Gunnar Zachariasen pulled one back for the visitors within seconds, and the Faroes' hopes of mounting a fightback improved significantly when defender Ragnar Nattestad was fouled by Ireland skipper Shane Duff inside the box and referee Alexandr Aliyev pointed to the spot.
Zachariasen duly obliged from 12 yards to make it 3-2 with eight minutes of the opening 45 still to play.
However, Noel King's men regained a measure of control within two minutes when Anthony Forde's first goal for the Under-21s gave them breathing space once again, and O'Brien's second sent them in at the break with their three-goal advantage re-established.
The second half proved to be something of an anti-climax by comparison as both sides had chances, but respective keepers Sean McDermott and Teitur Gestson escaped without further mishap.
Victory completed a double over the Faroes for Ireland and took their Group 6 points tally to seven from five games on a day when runaway leaders Germany needed a late equaliser in Montenegro to snatch a 1-1 draw as they surrendered their 100pc record.