Football | Parrott on target as Ireland U21s thump Sweden

The Republic of Ireland U21s have come from behind to hammer Sweden 4-1 at Tallaght Stadium.

Lee O’Connor, Adam Idah, Troy Parrott and Zach Elbouzedi scored the goals for Stephen Kenny’s team after Sweden had taken the lead through Viktor Gyokeres’ 18th-minute goal.

After a sluggish opening 45 minutes in Dublin, Ireland exploded into life in the second half at Tallaght Stadium.

Kenny made four changes to the team which beat Armenia 1-0 in Dublin last week, with Parrott, O’Connor, Conor Masterson and captain Jayson Molumby coming into the starting lineup.

Dara O’Shea (suspended), Gavin Kilkenny, Danny McNamara and Connor Ronan were the players to make way.

Sweden had a penalty shout within 60 seconds of kick-off when Gyokeres went down in the box under a challenge from Masterson, but the referee waved play on.

The Swedish striker opened the scoring in the 18th minute, cutting inside Masterson before curling a superb strike into the far corner past Gavin Bazunu.

Ireland probed for an equalizer, but struggled to produce their best form in the first half.

Their best chance of the half came in the 37th minute, with Parrott doing brilliantly on the wing before teeing up Idah, who fired a shot into the side-netting.

At the other end, Daleho Irandust shot straight at Bazunu after a mistake from Nathan Collins, beforeย Jake Larsson smashed an effort into the side-netting.

Kenny made a double change at the interval, with Ronan and Liam Scales coming on for Molumby and Masterson.

Midfielder Ronan made an instant impact, finding Elbouzedi early in the second half, with the Waterford winger flashing a shot narrowly wide.

It took Ireland just four minutes to restore parity after the restart.

Idah burst down the right wing brilliantly before pulling a low cross back to O’Connor.

The Celtic defender – who made his senior international debut against New Zealand – produced a brilliant finish, side-footing the ball into the far corner.

Parrott shot straight at Pontius Dahlberg soon afterwards as the hosts turned on the style.

Ireland took the lead in the 63rd minute with another excellent goal.

Elbouzedi showed great pace and power to escape down the right channel, before picking out the onrushing Idah with a low cross.

The Norwich striker calmly side-footed Elbouzedi’s cross into the bottom corner to make it 2-1.

10 minutes later, Ireland registered their third goal of the half.

Ronan wriggled free in midfield before sending a delightful left-footed through ball over the Sweden defence to release Parrott down the left.

The Spurs forward bore down on goal and slotted a tidy finish past Dahlberg to make it 3-1.

Parrott was replaced a few minutes later by Gavin Kilkenny as Kenny made his third and final change, with the 17-year-old afforded a standing ovation as he made his way off the pitch.

With 10 minutes defending, Sweden’s John Bjorkengren recovered brilliantly to head Elbouzedi’s goal-bound effort off the line.

Ireland capped off a scintillating second half display with their fourth goal in the 86th minute.

Fittingly, it was the excellent Elbouzedi who got his name on the scoresheet.

Ronan dribbled down the left before providing a perfect low ball across the six-yard box for Elbouzedi to tap into an empty net.

The Waterford midfielder – who scored the winner against Armenia last week – ran from deep to apply a simple finish to Ronan’s inch-perfect cross.

The win keeps Ireland at the summit of Group 1 on 16 points after seven matches.

Italy, who hammered Armenia 6-0, are second on 13 points, but have two games in hand. Iceland trail Ireland by seven points, but have also played two games fewer than Kenny’s side.