Tuesday 12 December 2017

Brady caps return to arms in style with deadly brace

Ireland U-21 2, Austria U-21 1, John Fallon

Robbie Brady made a welcome return to the Republic of Ireland shirt in Sligo last night and did not disappoint manager Noel King.

The Manchester United ace, who made an impressive debut on loan to Hull City last Friday, scored twice as Ireland U-21s came from behind to defeat Austria at the Showgrounds.

Against the run of play, Noel King's side fell behind to a Raphael Holzhauser free-kick on 68 minutes, but Brady headed the equaliser four minutes later, before chipping in with a stoppage-time penalty winner.

There was plenty of anticipation last night about the return of Brady to the international fray, having been axed by Paul Doolin for the U-19 European Championships in Romania last month. And, the Manchester United gave the Sligo punters plenty to shout about on his first appearance for King.

While yesterday saw the promotion of Brady's U-21 colleague Conor Clifford to the senior squad for this evening's friendly against Croatia, Giovanni Trapattoni will also be keeping tabs on Ireland's match-winner.

Brady's next scheduled international assignment is the U-21 UEFA Championship qualification opener against Hungary on September 1, also in Sligo, though a continued improvement in the form he showed on that Hull debut, as well as last night, could see him fast-tracked into Trap's plans for the vital World Cup qualifying double-header against Slovakia and Russia.

"I think I showed out there tonight how much I enjoy playing for Ireland," said the teen, dispelling any doubts about his international commitment.

"Conor Clifford and I had asked to take the penalties and with Conor substituted, I wasn't letting anyone else hit it.

"The last week couldn't have gone any better and these two goals will kick-start me for Saturday's game against Ipswich Town."

Just three minutes had gone when Brady skipped inside the full-back and thundered a left-foot shot which Austria goalkeeper Heinz Lindner turned around the post for a corner.

The Irish defence were rarely threatened in the first half, aside from a couple of hesitant moments by Ireland goalkeeper Ian McLoughlin.

A mix-up between the recently-signed MK Dons stopper and Gavin Gunning was seized upon by Stefan Hierlander, but he couldn't finish from the edge of the box.

King shuffled his pack at the break by introducing five substitutes, but Brady remained the most dangerous of Ireland's performers.

With Ireland seemingly in control, they were rocked by an Austrian opener following the awarding of a dubious free-kick on 68 minutes.

Mark Connolly was penalised by referee Arnold Hunter, despite what appeared to be a clean tackle on substitute Christoph Kropfl and the free was curled around the wall and past Aaron McCarey by VfB Stuttgart first-teamer Raphael Holzhauser.

Ireland needed a spark and they got it four minutes later when Brady fed Aidan White on the left and raced into the box to head the Leeds United winger's cross into the top corner.

Austrian substitute Dario Tadic missed an open goal with two minutes left and the visitors were made to pay when defender Michael Holzmann bundled Brady over inside the area.

Up stepped the man of the match to beat Lindler from the spot to crown an impressive evening's work.

Ireland -- McLoughlin (MK Dons); Connolly (Bolton), Kiernan (Wigan Athletic), Canavan (Scunthorpe United), Gunning (Blackburn Rovers); Clifford (Chelsea), Towell (Celtic), Hendrick (Derby County); Brady (Hull City), Doran (Inverness CT), White (Leeds United). Subs: McCarey (Wolves) for McLoughlin, Oyebanjo (York City) for Canavan, Mason (Cardiff City) for Clifford, Stevens (Shamrock Rovers) for Gunning, Duffy (Everton) for Hendrick (all 46), Greene (Sligo Rovers) for White (73), Kearns (Dundalk) for Doran (80).

Austria -- Lindner; Zwierschitz, Karner, Hinteregger, Hart; Hierlander, Holzhauser, Hopfer, Drazan; Schwab, Elsneg.

Subs: Tadic for Schwab, Schopf for Hopfer (both 46), Gregoritsch for Drazan, Kropfl for Elsneg (63), Holzmann for Zwierschitz, Sollbauer for Karner (75).

Ref -- A Hunter (Northern Ireland).

Irish Independent

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