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Saturday 14 December 2019

Parrott preys on Swedes as Kenny's kids show steel

U21 Euro Qualifier : Ireland 4 Sweden 1

LETHAL: Adam Idah (9) celebrates with his Republic of Ireland team-mates after putting them 2-1 up. Photo: SPORTSFILE
LETHAL: Adam Idah (9) celebrates with his Republic of Ireland team-mates after putting them 2-1 up. Photo: SPORTSFILE

The casual observers may have come to see Troy Parrott in the flesh, in his native Dublin, before the teenager heads further towards the big time.

But Ireland's U21 side showed they are anything but a one-man side as a second-half revival turned around a 1-0 deficit, and what was looking like a second successive night of disappointment for an Ireland side in Dublin, into a 4-1 win which keeps Stephen Kenny's men very much on track for qualification for the Euro 2021 finals.

Parrott returns to an uncertain situation at his club today following last night's shock dismissal of Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, a coach who was very much a fan of the Irishman, but he has come away from this international break with his status enhanced, a senior debut last week and a fine display last night, capped off by scoring Ireland's third goal on 73 minutes, earlier successful strikes from Lee O'Connor and Adam Idah, and a fourth from home-based prospect Zak Elbouzedi.

Sub Connor Ronan was also a key figure for the Irish side, the Slovakia-based midfielder a class act.

It was the team's first game back on home soil after back-to-back away games, and the final match in the pretty dramatic year of 2019. But the buzz that enveloped Tallaght for the earlier home games was sadly absent last night, a disappointing crowd of 2,760.

The game matched the quiet atmosphere, not much to see until Sweden took the lead on 18 minutes through Viktor Gyökeres after Nathan Collins lost concentration.

Ireland had hoped for so much from Parrott and he sparked into life, once he got free from the shackles of his Swedish marker who had clearly been detailed with minding the Spurs man, on 38 minutes.

Parrott outpaced Anel Ahmedhodzic and powered his way towards goal, crossing for Adam Idah, but the shot from the Norwich man hit the side netting.

It was an annoying night for the home side, maybe summed up by one incident off the field of play: when the stadium announcer in Tallaght called for the owner of a UK-reg car to move his vehicle as it was causing an obstruction, there was the sight of senior international Jack Byrne scampering out of his seat with his car keys in hand, the Shamrock Rovers man clearly the guilty party.

Kenny made two changes at half time, Liam Scales and Connor Ronan on for Conor Masterson and captain Jayson Molumby, and the response was almost immediate.

Four minutes into the second half, Waterford native O'Connor was set up by Idah and his finish was sublime.

Ronan was making a difference to the Irish side but Zak Elbouzedi also came into things more, and it was his cross which provided Idah with the opportunity to score on 63 minutes, clinical from Idah as he claimed his fifth goal at U21 level.

And Parrott showed his real potential with a run and finish to make it 3-1 on 73 minutes, Ronan with the assist. Ronan was there again as the source four minutes from time, a brilliant run down the left and cross which the unmarked Elbouzedi stabbed home.

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