Republic of Ireland 2 Spain 1
The Republic of Ireland U21 side struck a peak of form to score a well-deserved victory over an impressive Spanish outfit in a friendly played before a capacity attendance at the Waterford RSC.
Don Givens’s side had to show character and no little skill to undo the visitors and record a notable success that will provide the squad with a major lift ahead their clash with Turkey in the UEFA Championship in Cork on Tuesday next.
That Turner’s Cross encounter will be the opening game of the UEFA Championships qualifying tournament and if they can produce a repeat of this performance against the Turks then it should be a cracking tie.
Galway United winger Jay O’Shea and Blackburn’s Alan Judge were the goal-scoring heroes for the home side in front of 3,400 passionate fans in Waterford.
And a night of genuine satisfaction for the Irish was confirmed when team captain and Waterford native, Eddie Nolan, was voted “Man of the Match”.
Ireland had to work extremely hard to secure their win and the intensity of Spain’s challenge was evident early for Ireland’s goalkeeper Shane Redmond had shown his quality in the first half with a number of decent stops, including a 12th minute save to deny exciting winger Jeffren.
The Irish took the lead in the 37th minute when Owen Garvan’s free-kick from the right wing was indecisively dealt with by goalkeeper Ruben Mino. He punched the ball against one of his colleagues and Jay O’Shea reacted quickly to knock home the loose ball.
Redmond denied Parejo in the 40th minute before he and full-back Seamus Coleman combined to make a goal-line clearance in first-half injury-time. Redmond and Coleman smothered a strike from a Spanish forward and as the ball broke off the full-back, goalkeeper Redmond had to dive backwards to claw the ball to safety.
Sunderland’s David Meyler was denied by Mino in the 53rd minute before the Irish extended their lead with a superbly worked goal five minutes later.
Judge timed his run from the right wing to perfection and slotted home from 18 yards after Owen Garvan had cleverly stepped over a low left-wing cross from Celtic’s Cillian Sheridan.
Bolado pulled one back in the 63rd minute after the home defence failed to deal with a Spanish corner kick.
Garvan, outstanding in midfield, was unlucky not to produce a dramatic third goal for the Irish just moments later as he lobbed the goalkeeper from inside the centre circle but the ball drifted narrowly overthe crossbar.
The Irish held on to secure a memorable win and all eyes will turn to Turner’s Cross on Tuesday now.
Republic of Ireland: Redmond (Nottm Forest); Coleman (Everton), Moloney (Nottm Forest), Nolan (Preston), Dennehy (Cardiff); Judge (Blackburn), Gleeson (Wolves), Meyler (Sunderland), Garvan (Ipswich), O’Shea (Galway Utd); Sheridan (Celtic).
Subs: Henderson (Bristol City) for Redmond 46 mins; Carey (Celtic) for Coleman 56; O’Toole (Watford) for Gleeson 76; Fagan (Unattached) for Judge 76.
Spain:> Mino; Azpilicueta, Jose Angel, Kiko, San Jose, Camacho, Jeffren, Marc Crosas, Bolado, Daniel Parejo, Jordi Alba.
Subs – Bedia for Crosas 62; Aaron for Jeffren 74; Nsue for Camacho 74; Michel for Bolado 74.
Referee: Peter Sippel (Germany).