Under-19 International Friendly
Republic of Ireland 1 – 2 Chile
Arce (o.g.) 60 Barrientos 66, 79
The Republic of Ireland Under-19 team suffered defeat in their season opener tonight when Chile came from behind to record victory in the first International match ever played at Athlone Town’s splendid new Lissywoolen Stadium.
Ireland are preparing to contest the first phase UEFA qualifying series in November and tonight’s friendly match provided an opportunity for the players to make an early impression ahead of the competitive action in three months time.
A spell of concerted pressure in the opening stage of the second half paid off when Ireland took the lead after 60 minutes but Sebastian Barrientos showed a clean pair of heels to twice breach the Irish rearguard and stick away goals with aplomb.
As much as Ireland will be disappointed to have lost the match in the latter stages, they would have to be pleased with the level of performance shown against a skilful Chilean side who used the ball well and seldom conceded possession.
Chile were involved in the Northern Ireland Milk Cup tournament last week and looked sharper as the game progressed.
The nations meet again on Thursday night at the same venue in the second of this week’s double-friendly fixture (7.30pm).
The Irish have been grouped with Belarus, Andora and the host nation Portugal for the preliminary phase which starts on November 1st. A top two finish in the mini-group after the round-robin series would advance Ireland into next year’s Elite round of qualifiers.
Bray Wanderers striker Emeka Onwubiko led the Irish line as a lone striker and worked hard without getting too many opportunities to break the deadlock in the first-half.
Mark O’Toole’s surging runs from left-back caused the Chileans problems and it was from his cross that Ireland should have taken the lead on 20 minutes.
James Berrett connected with the delivery but his deft flicked volley from six yards angled wide of the far post.
Onwubiko had the tremendous chance six minutes before half-time when Ruairi Harkin supplied a perfect cross into the box but the striker’s near post header flashed fractionally off-target.
The Irish carved out more openings early in the second half and moments after substitute Daniel Corcorcan volleyed over from six yards, they took the lead on the hour mark.
Ireland skipper Michael Spillane attacked Ruairi Harkin’s inviting free-kick from the right but Chile defender Esteban Arce ended up getting the decisive touch to send the ball high into his own net.
That opener was cancelled out six minutes later when Sebastian Barrientos sprinted onto a defence-splitting pass before lofting the ball over the advancing Irish goalkeeper Shane Redmond and into the net from the edge of the box.
A similar move led to Chile taking the lead eleven minutes from time after Barrientos again outwitted the Irish defence with a clever run to beat the offside trap from Abarca’s pass before rounding Redmond and slotting home.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Redmond (Notts Forest), Joyce (Birmingham City) - Donoghue (Sunderland) - 58, O’Toole (Norwich City), Spillane (Norwich City), Haverty (St. Patrick’s Athletic) , Fitzgerald (West Ham United), Harkin (Charlton Athletic), Berrett (Huddersfield Town) - Carolan (Crystal Palace) - 52, Onwubiko (Bray Wanderers) - Corcoran (St. Patrick’s Athletic) - 52, Arter (Charlton Athletic) - Mahon (Wigan Athletic) - 65, Liddle (Sunderland) - Lynch (Bohemians) - 80.
CHILE: Saaverda, Biskupovic (Pineda 63 – Campos 89), Torres, Arce, Saez, Salinas, Aranguiz, Abarca, Munoz (Torreblanca 46), Barrientos, Orellana (Medel 46).
Referee: Richie Winter.