Sunday 22 September 2019

Parrott leaves Ireland sitting pretty as Kenny hails character

Sweden U-21 1 Ireland U-21 3

Troy Parrott shows his delight after a cheeky finish for Ireland’s third goal. Photo: Reuters
Troy Parrott shows his delight after a cheeky finish for Ireland’s third goal. Photo: Reuters

John Fallon

It's difficult to keep a good thing down and Troy Parrott's ascent is creating first-world dilemmas for Ireland's double-act of managers.

There were gasps of shock in Dublin and Kalmar when current U-21 boss Stephen Kenny left Ireland's most exciting prospect on the bench for last night's Euro qualifier against Sweden.

At 17, the Tottenham tyro looked very much at home on his debut at this level against Armenia, capping his debut with the winner in a 1-0 victory.

Ireland's ambitions of challenging Italy and Sweden to qualify for the 2021 Euros from this group will be influenced by the meetings with the top two. Hence, Parrott's omission was all the more startling.

In the end, it didn't matter as the teen appeared from the bench with Ireland behind to sprinkle his gold-dust on a memorable victory.

Noteworthy

Ireland's Conor Masterson and Sweden's Benjamin Mbunga Kimpioka in action. Photo: Reuters
Ireland's Conor Masterson and Sweden's Benjamin Mbunga Kimpioka in action. Photo: Reuters

Parrott's goals, scored either side of Conor Masterson's header, were noteworthy but so too is the result.

Ireland have clear sight of a top-two finish in their pool, resulting a minimum shot at reaching the 2021 finals in Slovenia and Hungary through the play-offs. Victory keeps Ireland top of their group with the Italians up at Tallaght next October 10.

According to McCarthy, Kenny will get to keep Parrott for that week, which includes a trip to Iceland. He was keen to praise his fellow Dubliner Parrott for displaying the right attitude to being dropped.

"Troy showed tremendous character tonight," said future senior boss Kenny.

"He played so well on his debut against Armenia last Friday but there was a tactical reshuffle to cope with Sweden's midfield.

"We couldn't start with four strikers against such a talented Swedish team.

Sweden's Mattias Svanberg scores a goal. Photo: Reuters
Sweden's Mattias Svanberg scores a goal. Photo: Reuters

"We knew that a strong finish would be needed. If we controlled midfield, we could spring the forwards and finish strongly. Troy, for a 17-year-old, brilliantly finished off the two chances."

Sweden survived an early scare when Aaron Connolly cut in from the left and curled his low shot just past the far post of Pontus Dahlberg.

The Watford goalkeeper was kept busy by the Irish but only after the hosts made use of a purple patch to forge ahead on 19 minutes. Bologna midfielder Mattias Svanberg finished off a flowing move with a first-time 35-yard rocket into the top corner.

When Danny Mandroiu left the pitch clutching his hip six minutes into the second half, it was the cue for Parrott's introduction.

He was demanding the ball on 64 minutes from Connolly, who was tripped inside the box by Svanberg, but allowed the creator to take a stab. Dahlberg flung himself the right way and fingertip the effort away.

Ireland got back level four minutes later. Parrott was perfectly placed to find the roof of the net with a first-time strike after Jonathan Afolabi's left-wing cross was only half cleared.

It was all in Ireland's favour at this late stage and captain Jayson Molumby squandered a close-range effort by heading wide. Masterson, on his 21st birthday, showed him the way by evading his marker to make it 2-1 with a header on 86 minutes.

Parrott added the third on the break in stoppage time by dinking the ball over Dahlberg after his initial effort came back off a defender.

"When we lost our way for a 15-minute period in the first half, Sweden played well and capitalised with the opener," said Kenny. "The players showed so much courage after suffering a lot of setbacks in the game.

"We missed a penalty, had a goal disallowed and their goalkeeper produced a brilliant performance.

"There's no question that we deserved the victory. We could have won it by any amount."

SWEDEN - P Dahlberg; F Beijmo, F Hadzikadunic, H Andersson, T Isherwood (JF Cajuste 62); D Kulusekvski, S Ingelsson (B Hussein 81), M Svanberg, E Hansson (J Larsson 62); B Mbungu-Kimpioka (V Gyokeres 67), D Irandust (N Froling 81).

IRELAND - C Kelleher (Liverpool); L O'Connor (Celtic), D O'Shea (West Brom), C Masterson (QPR), D Leahy (Bohemians); J Molumby (Millwall), C Coventry (West Ham United); Z Elbouzedi (Waterford), D Mandroiu (Bohemians), A Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion); J Afolabi (Celtic). Subs: T Parrott (Tottenham Hotspur) for Mandroiu (51), G Kilkenny (Bournemouth) for Elbouzedi (73), A Idah (Norwich City) for Afolabi (82).

Ref - R Obrenovic (SVN)

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