Friday 19 January 2018

Doherty goal not enough to save day for King's men

Ireland U-21 1
Portugal U-21 2

John Fallon

IRELAND'S U-21s were beaten by a better Portuguese side at Oriel Park last night, with striker Aidan O'Brien's own-goal ultimately proving decisive.

This may have been Portugal's second-string U-21 squad but their slick passing in the opening stages had Ireland chasing shadows in the blizzard conditions.

Sustained early pressure saw the visitors hit the front on 10 minutes.

Ireland looked to have averted the danger caused by Aldair's marauding run into the box when skipper Shane Duffy halted his run. But Duffy's Everton clubmate Francisco Junior seized upon the loose ball to smash his shot high into the top corner.

Portugal continued to probe after the break and substitute 'keeper Aaron McCarey was forced to turn a ferocious free-kick by Luis Silva around the post.

The dogged resistance of the Irish, however, was undone on 58 minutes when Aldair's inswinging corner glanced off the head of Irish striker O'Brien and into his own net.

Back came the home side, with substitute Anthony Forde showing more purpose down the left flank.

Yet it wasn't until 19 minutes from the end that their efforts were rewarded with a goal. Sean Murray's corner from the right was met by defender Matt Doherty to head past Joao Pinho.

Up next for the Irish is a double-header friendly against Denmark and Croatia on May 31 and June 5 respectively before the 2015 European Championship qualification campaign begins with a visit to the Faroe Islands on August 15.

After wins over Italy and Holland, this defeat will have given Noel King a further insight into his options with the competitive games ahead in the autumn.

IRELAND – S McDermott (Sandnes Utd); M Doherty (Wolves), S Duffy (Everton, capt), A O'Connor (Burton Albion), S McGinty (Manchester United); C Reilly (Birmingham City), K Ferdinand (Peterborough Utd), S Murray (Watford), S Carruthers (Aston Villa), Sutherland (QPR); A O'Brien (Millwall), Subs: A McCarey (Wolves) for McDermott, A Forde (Scunthorpe United) for Carruthers, J O'Sullivan (Blackburn Rovers) for Ferdinand, J Shaughnessy (Aberdeen) for Duffy, C McHugh (Dundalk) for McGinty, C Forrester (St. Pat's) for Sutherland (all 46 mins), C Bolger (Bolton Wanderers) for Doherty, G Burke (Aston Villa) for Murray (both 73 mins)

PORTUGAL – Ribeiro (Pinho 46); Joao Amorim (Venancio 89), Josue, Lourenco, Martins; Oliveira (Amorim 52), Gustavo, Aldair (Conentao 65), Junior (Goncalves 65), Silva (Vitinha 89); Carvalho (Pipo 46).

Ref – M Whitby (Wal).

Irish Independent

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