STEPHEN Kenny saw his Ireland under-21 side score four second-half goals to produce a stunning 4-1 comeback victory over Sweden at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday night.
Goals from Lee O’Connor, Adam Idah, Troy Parrott and Zack Elbouzedi saw Ireland turn around a half-time deficit to maintain their three-point lead at the top of their Euro 2021 qualifying group.
Viktor Gyokeres had handed Sweden a shock early lead and Ireland were outplayed in the first 45 minutes but some key half-time changes swung the momentum of the game.
Captain Jayson Molumby and defender Conor Masterson withdrew at the break with injury and were replaced by Connor Ronan and Liam Scales, and the former bagged two assists.
The result leaves Ireland three points ahead of Italy, albeit with two more games played, as they took maximum points from the back-to-back games with Armenia and Sweden.
The prospect looked somewhat more remote at the break after Gyokeres outmuscles O’Connor wide on the left and cut inside Masterson before curling past a helpless Gavin Bazunu.
Ireland were a different side in the second half, however, and levelled within four minutes of the restart as Celtic full-back O’Connor finished spectacularly from Idah’s pass.
The 19-year-old, who got an assist on his senior international bow against New Zealand last week, continued his run into the box before rattling the back of the net.
Just past the hour, Ireland took the lead as Idah got on the end of an Elbouzedi cross from the right and finished calmly.
Parrott netted his fourth goal in four under-21 games – having been in the senior squad for the draw with Denmark the night before – 16 minutes from time.
Ireland broke and the lively Ronan played the Spurs man into space wide on the left, and the prolific striker cut inside before picking out the bottom corner with a fine finish.
And Ronan was the provider once more for the clincher as he found space near the byline, lifted his head and picked out Elbouzedi for an easy tap-in.
“It was an incredible second-half performance and the team deserves a huge amount of credit,” said Kenny after the match.
“The way we responded after the break was fantastic to see and I’m delighted the players got their reward for fantastic team performance. It was a fantastic camp with six points across the two games.”