Derrick Williams, Sean Maguire and Callum Robinson scored their first Republic of Ireland goals as an experimental side beat New Zealand.
The team who started the Dublin friendly will bear no resemblance to the side who play Monday’s must-win Euro 2020 qualifier against Denmark.
New Zealand took the lead through debutant Callum McCowatt.
But Williams headed in Robbie Brady’s corner, Maguire blasted home a second from 20 yards and Robinson headed in.
The last two goals were set up by teenage debutants, with Troy Parrott laying off for Maguire and Lee O’Connor crossing for substitute Robinson.
What have the Republic learned?
It was a strange game for several reasons – a rookie XI against a team who had not played an international match for 525 days, in front of a sparse Aviva Stadium crowd four days before the Republic’s biggest game in two years.
Parrott, who has played just one Carabao Cup game for Tottenham and Celtic’s O’Connor, who has never played a first-team game at club level, were the debutants in a line-up announced over 24 hours before kick-off.
The performance will probably have been of more interest to Stephen Kenny, the Republic of Ireland Under-21 boss who replaces Mick McCarthy as manager next August.
Williams and O’Connor were adventurous at full-back, with Shamrock Rovers playmaker Byrne composed on the ball and Maguire and Parrott causing plenty of problems – yet it is highly unlikely any of them will start on Monday.
McCarthy praised midfielders Alan Browne and Josh Cullen afterwards too.
Brady, who played on the right side of a front three, looked sharp on his first international appearance of the season. The Burnley man, who has recovered from a rib injury, is probably the most likely contender for that match – although McCarthy cast doubt on that after the game, saying he is not “match-hardened”.
However, one of his rivals for a spot against Denmark is Robinson, whose maiden international goal came at a good time.
Who had the chances?
The Irish played some fluent football out wide and through the centre, with Williams and Maguire missing several chances as well as scoring.
Parrott, the third youngest Republic of Ireland player, almost got a goal to add to his assist but his shot was straight at keeper Stefan Marinovic. McCarthy said the teenager “did OK” but “didn’t set the world on fire”.
New Zealand, who gave West Ham defender Winston Reid his first appearance for club or country since March 2018, took the lead against the run of play when 20-year-old McCowatt converted a cross from Wellington Phoenix team-mate Liberato Cacace.
But the Republic eventually took a chance when Williams powered home a header from Brady’s corner.
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New Zealand then made a mess of clearing the ball and Parrott laid off for Maguire, who McCarthy called “excellent” after the game, to smash home from the edge of the box. A good run from O’Connor down the right was met by the head of substitute Robinson.
That was a big boost for the Sheffield United man, who could well start on Monday. The Irish must beat Denmark to qualify and may need a 2-0 win if Switzerland draw with Georgia on Friday.
‘The debutants all did well’
McCarthy said: “I’m satisfied. I thought we played some decent football in the first half, but I could see their goal coming.
“It was a good goal by them, but I wasn’t happy with the way we let them through us, so that was a bit disappointing.
“But it was great that the lads got their first goals for the country, the debutants all did well in the game, so I’m really pleased.”
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