Three outstanding performances from Ireland’s U21’s Last-Gasp win over Sweden
Ireland’s U21 qualifying campaign is still alive after Ollie O’Neill’s last second goal gave Boys in Green a well-deserved 1-0 victory over Sweden. It was a must-see match for Jim Crawford’s young men and the result means that they can still compete with Italy and Sweden for the top spot in the group. Ireland had a much better outing this time than the loss to Italy on Friday. They were very impressive in defense and created more than enough chances to win the match. Another night they could have won by two or three if they took their chances.
There were many solid performances out there in Tallaght tonight from the likes of Conor Coventry, Gavin Kilkenny and Will Smallbone but there were a few players who stood out.
Ollie O’Neill wins it for Ireland’s U21 on the last kick of the match !!! #COYBIGpic.twitter.com/DvgEZgSeie
– Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) 16 November 2021
Outstanding performances from Ireland U21 win against Sweden
When they entered the match, many were worried about Sweden’s attack. They had scored 18 goals so far in the qualifiers and sat at the top of the group. Anthony Elanga had scored six of those goals and he lined up on the left wing against O’Connor. But O’Connor kept him quiet throughout the match. Elanga was a non-factor thanks to O’Connor. It was not only in the defense that he impressed. Tranmere’s right back was relentless in his pace of work forward, and was always an alternative to the right to whip in crosses.
The Bray Wanderers goalkeeper impressed once again tonight. Maher did not have many saves tonight but on the ball he was very impressive. He threw in a few Cruyff laps again as he did on Friday night and even had a gallop up on the field to control the ball before he lobbed it over the head of the Swedish striker and calmly passed it. The goalkeeper also got a magnificent interview after the match where he talked about being calm under pressure and how his mother “almost had a heart attack” when he saw his risky game. He was not terrified of it at all, most importantly.
Huge 💚 https://t.co/5aohsHjGp1
– Brian Maher (@ brianmaher00) 16 November 2021
This selection is for all substitutes that Jim Crawford brought in in the second half. The match was dying out a bit and it looked like it would be a 0-0 draw but credit to Crawford and the players, they came from the bench and gave enormous energy. Players such as Fulham’s O’Neill, Evan Ferguson and Will Ferry had chances almost immediately after coming off the bench and leading Ireland’s late siege to victory. O’Neill will receive all the praise for the goal and deservedly so he was the most complex player on the field. If some of the other players had taken their chances earlier in the match as O’Neill did, Ireland would have won comfortably.
“It’s probably the best feeling I’ve ever had”
The goal-scoring hero Ollie O’Neill talks about a famous goal for Ireland under 21 at Tallaght #RTESoccer pic.twitter.com/iGReiL5TO9
– RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) 16 November 2021
It was an important victory for Ireland but they have to build on that. The group will not meet again until March where they meet Sweden away again, so let’s hope they can keep up.
See also: Balls Remembers: Ireland’s trip to Tehran in 2002, an away trip like no other