IRELAND’S Under-21s surrendered a two-goal lead against 10-man Russia tonight to complete their involvement in the Marbella international tournament.
Newcomer Glen Rea had fired Noel King’s side ahead on five minutes while Dylan Connolly doubled the lead two minutes after the break.
A powerful Russian outfit, however, remained in the game and gained hope when substitute Morgunov Alexander reduced the arrears on the hour mark.
They grabbed a draw with the equaliser 15 minutes later as Sheidaev Ramil slid in to sweep home from six yards.
King made a raft of changes to the side beaten one-nil by USA on Saturday, with Hull City’s right-back Brian Lenihan one of those entrusted with a start for the Boys in Green.
They sped into an early lead when Connolly’s right-wing free-kick was won in the air by Rea and the Brighton midfielder was first to react when the ball bounced by steering it home from close-range.
Rea was then involved in the next incident of note on 23 minutes after he was taken out by Dmitri Efremov, resulting in a straight red card for the Russian.
Ireland finished the half in command and made that supremacy count shortly after the restart.
When Lee Desmond sent his long ball out of defence, darting onto the pass was Connolly, who knocked the ball past the advancing goalkeeper and found the net from an acute angle.
That was the cue for Russia to finally string some passes together and their nippy substitute Morgunov Alexander produced a sublime piece of skill by skipping inside just past the hour and burying a 25-yard shot past a static Eric Grimes in the Ireland goalkeeper.
Ireland’s substitute goalkeeper was again left helpless for the leveller. Rugged striker Sheidaev Ramil raced to the front post to meet a right-wing cross and prodded the ball home with his toe.
IRELAND U-21: D Rogers (Dumbarton); B Lenihan (Hull City), T Hoban (Watford), S Griffin (Reading), L Desmond (St Patrick’s Athletic); A Browne (Preston North End), G Rea (Brighton & Hove Albion); D Connolly (Shelbourne), K McEvoy (Tottenham Hotspur), J Connors (Dagenham & Redbridge); M Hamilton (Wigan Athletic).
Subs: E Grimes (Leeds United) for Rogers (46 mins), S Hoare (St Patrick's Athletic) for Lenihan (68 mins), K Sadlier (Brighton) for (69 mins), W Hayhurst (Preston North End) for for Connolly (80 mins), E O’Connell (Celtic) for Desmond (85 mins)
RUSSIA U-21: S Alexander; K Viacheslav, L Vitalli, Z Illya, K Evgenny; A Vladimir, D Efremov, M Alexey; S Konstantin, E Aleksi, S Ramil.