It was Denmark who took the spoils in Tallaght Stadium on Monday night against the Republic of Ireland in their under 21 International friendly. Their captain, Mads Albaek, led by example scoring both his sides goals with his second half dead ball strikes meaning the Danes leave these shores with a 2-1 win.
It was a fairly tepid opening half to the game. The visitors had plenty of possession but little penetration in the opening period, as they seemed content to pass the ball in areas of little danger to Ireland. Much of their play went through Albaek who sat in front of the Danish back four and he put in a man of the match performance dictating much of their play.
The first few chances of the game fell to the home side. After five minutes Aidan White got free down the left wing and his deep cross was met by the stretching Rhys Murphy. However Danish centre-half Jannik Vestergaard was in position to block Murphy’s effort.
Ireland’s strike partners then linked up, with Murphy getting another chance to shoot having picked up a pinpoint pass from Eunan O'Kane. Murphy's left foot shot from outside the area was well held by Danish 'keeper Nicolai Oppen Larsen.
The Danish defence then backed off to allow White run at them again. He should have done better with his shot that went over the bar. Ireland did have the ball in the net on the half hour mark but it was quickly ruled out for offside.
Five minutes later Denmark finally got some end product from their possession when a neat touch by Albaek allowing him to skip by Celtic’s Richie Towell and get a shot away that Ian McLoughlin in the Irish goal had covered.
Vestergaard, who plays his football with Hoffenheim in Germany, then exploited some space to move upfield from the back. His fierce shot clipped the head of his own teammate Niklas Helenius, much to Ireland’s relief. Bashkim Kadrii then forced John Egan to concede a corner as the game moved towards half time but the Danes couldn’t exploit this dead ball situation.
The game opened up more in the second half probably helped by the number of substitutions as 11 changes were made during the second 45 minutes.
Five minutes into the second period, Robbie Brady made an excellent run down the left sucking out the Danish centre-halves but his delivery was cleared when he should have done better with the centre for O’Kane and Murphy in the middle.
It was Ireland’s Robbie Brady who opened the scoring on 54 minutes. Erik Sviatschenko pulled down Murphy in a dangerous position and Brady’s left foot effort went up and over the wall into the top right hand corner of the goal with Larsen left floundering. It was a superb strike from the Manchester United player.
However, just three minutes later, Mads Albaek had equalised for Denmark. His free kick clipped the top of the Irish wall and the deflection meant Ian McLoughlin was wrong footed and couldn’t prevent the ball going into the net from the Danish captain.
Ireland were getting some joy down the right and Egan got forward on 66 minutes to ghost passed a couple of Danish defenders. He could have gone down under pressure in the penalty area but stayed upright allowing the Danes to clear.
It was Denmark who would get the chance from the penalty spot as, having scored Ireland’s goal, Brady gifted the visitors a spot kick. Back defending Brady put an untidy challenge on substitute Mikkel Kirkeskov in the penalty area. Scottish referee Kevin Clancy had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot and Albaek made no mistake from twelve yards beating McLoughlin low to the ‘keeper’s left on 74 minutes.
Kadrii had two chances to increase the lead for Morten Wieghorst’s team but both times he put the ball over the bar when he had time to pick his spot when getting forward into Ireland’s box.
Ireland tried to put pressure on Denmark in the last 10 minutes. First Chelsea's Conor Clifford couldn’t match Brady's earlier free and he sent it over the bar from twenty-five yards. Next substitute Ronan Murray whipped a free into the box for Noel King’s Ireland team winning a corner but the Irish couldn’t gain anything from it.
In injury time, substitute Kasper Kusk had a great chance to add a third when he struck the pull back from Mark Gundeleach, who was making his debut for Denmark. Kusk’s shot was another one that would go high and over the bar. Seconds later, referee Clancy blew his whistle giving the Danes a hard fought 2-1 victory ahead of their game against Macedonia. Ireland have to take this defeat into next Monday’s qualifier with Italy in Sligo.
Republic of Ireland u21: Ian McLoughlin (Aaron McCarey 77); John Egan, Shane Duffy, Niall Canavan, Greg Cunningham (c); Robbie Brady (Ronan Murray 77), Richie Towell, Jeff Hendrick (Conor Clifford 54), Aidan White; Rhys Murphy (James Collins 54), Eunan O'Kane (Conor Hourihane 54).
Subs not used: Mark Connolly, Kevin Long, Paddy Madden, Robbie Gibbons.
Denmark u21: Nicolai Oppen Larsen; Mark Gundelach, Erik Sviaschenko, Jannik Vestergaard (Daniel Hoegh 60), Bashkim Kadrii (Alexander Juel Andersen 83); Emil Larsen, Mads Albaek (c), Casper Sloth (Mikkel Kirkeskov 60), Andreas Laudrup (Kasper Kusk 83), Niklas Helenius (Simon Makienok 69); Anders Christiansen (Daniel Pedersen 83),
Subs Not Used: Frederik Ronnow,
Bookings: Erik Sviatchenko 54.
Referee: Kevin Clancy (Scotland).
Attendance: 500 (estimate).
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Mads Albaek.