Late agony for King's troops
Portygal U-21 2 Ireland U-21 0
Published 26/03/2011 | 05:00
IRELAND fell to two late goals last night in a friendly match from which they should have at least got a draw.
Although the far superior team for long spells and much the better in attack, Ireland couldn't unhinge a Portuguese defence superbly guided by Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.
As proceedings at the Estadio Municipal de Agueda drew towards the closing stages seemingly destined for stalemate, Ireland were forced to play the last 10 minutes a man down after Richie Towell was taken off injured after all seven substitutes had been used.
Portugal sensed the chance to snatch a winner and they availed of the extra man a minute from time when substitute Abel advanced from midfield and unleashed a shot from 30 yards that veered high into the top corner of substitute 'keeper Michael Quirke's goal.
Another substitute, Josué, compounded Ireland's woes by collecting the second goal four minutes into stoppage time. The striker capitalised on Quirke's hesitancy to clear the ball from his area and had the easy task of tapping home into an empty net.
The outcome was harsh on Ireland, who dominated the midfield area without carving open their hosts to any great degree.
They had earlier been denied a penalty when, after Adam Barton and Conor Henderson had exchanged passes on the halfway line and the latter slipped Aaron Doran through on goal, Hugo Costa's clip on the attacker's heels in the box went unpunished by the Portuguese referee Antonio Costa.
Adam Barton, making his Irish debut after recently switching from Northern Ireland, fashioned the first shot on target after 25 minutes.
A stray pass from the hosts' left-back Joshua Silva was seized upon by the Preston North End midfielder 30 yards out and his snap-shot was well parried by Lopes.
Barton's performance was one of the high points on a pleasing night for Noel King as he prepares for the European Championship qualifying campaign starting in September.
Ireland -- McLoughlin (Stockport); Connolly (Bolton), Canavan (Scunthorpe United), Kiernan (Wycombe), Gunning (Motherwell); Towell (Hibernian), Barton (Preston), Henderson (Arsenal); Clifford (Notts County), Doran (Inverness), O'Connor (Ipswich). Subs: Hourihane (Ipswich Town) for O'Connor, Oyebanjo (Histon) for Connolly, Duffy (Burnley) for Canavan, Quirke (Coventry) for McLoughlin (all 46), Madden (Carlisle) for Henderson (56), Dunleavy (Wolves) for Gunning (67), Murray (Torquay Utd) for Doran (76).