Football | Parrott brace seals U21 victory in Sweden

Troy Parrott scored an exquisite brace as the Republic of Ireland U21s beat Sweden 3-1 in Kalmar.

The Spurs teenager came off the bench to rescue the Boys in Green, who trailed the hosts 1-0 at the interval.

Conor Masterson also found the net with an excellent header to seal a crucial win for Stephen Kenny’s side on away soil.

Surprisingly, Kenny opted to start with both Parrott and Adam Idah on the bench, with Celtic’s Jonathan Afolabi and Bohs’ Danny Mandroiu given a chance in the starting eleven.

Ireland started brightly, with Aaron Connolly curling an early effort narrowly wide after just two minutes in Kalmar.

The hosts also looked threatening, and Caoimhin Kelleher was forced into a good save by Daleho Irandust before Sweden took the lead in spectacular fashion in the 19th minute.

Sweden captain Mattias Svanberg produced a stunning drive from 35 yards past Kelleher, giving Group A’s second seeds the advantage at the break.

Masterson and Darragh Leahy forced Sweden ‘keeper Pontus Dahlberg into saves before the interval as Ireland pressed for a way back into the game.

Afolabi correctly had a goal ruled out after diverting the ball into the Swedish net with his arm 13 minutes into the second period.

Ireland had a huge chance to equalize in the 64th minute when Aaron Connolly was tripped in the box, but the Brighton striker saw his spot kick saved by Watford shot stopper Dahlberg.

However, Ireland did get the goal their play deserved four minutes later.

It was Parrott – who came on for the injured Danny Mandroiu in the 51st minute – who drew the visitors level.

Afolabi’s cross from the left was cleared only as far as Parrott, who side-footed an emphatic finish into the far top corner with a crisp first-time effort.

Ireland then took the lead in the 86th minute, with Masterson guiding a beautiful header past Dahlberg from skipper Jayson Molumby’s pinpoint corner.

Parrott then put the game beyond doubt with a sublime goal in stoppage time.

The 17-year-old raced clear of the Sweden defence as the hosts were caught on the break, and showed wonderful composure to cut inside and nonchalantly lift the ball over Dahlberg to make it 3-1.

It was a goal which showcased all that makes Parrott such an exciting prospect; his vision, his finesse, his finishing ability and his calmness under pressure.

What a talent.

Kenny’s side have now taken maximum points from their opening three games in Group A, putting themselves in a great position to qualify for the European Championship.

The visit of top seeds Italy to Dublin in October could prove to be the definitive clash of the campaign, with only the top team in the group guaranteed of a place at the Euros.

“I have so much admiration for the players in the manner of their performance, because they’ve shown incredible courage,” Kenny told the FAI’s media team after the game.

“We kept playing, the midfield were very influential in that period and created so many chances. That’s a great sign. I think the players were outstanding tonight overall.”

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).

Republic of 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).