Original article appears on Pundit Arena.
The Republic of Ireland put their Euro 2016 qualifier defeat behind them with a fine 4-1 victory over the USA in the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday night. Two goals from Robbie Brady and a goal each for Anthony Pilkington and James McClean helped the Irish overcome an attacking American side, who were inadequate in front of goal.
On what was a cold and windy night at the Lansdowne Road venue, Ireland manager, Martin O’Neill made a clean sweep and put out an entirely different starting eleven compared to the team that lost to Scotland last Friday. Debuts were handed to Cyrus Christie at right back, while, David McGoldrick partnered his Ipswich Town teammate, Daryl Murphy up front.
The Boys in Green got off to a great start when McGoldrick played a lovely through ball to Anthony Pilkington. The Cardiff City midfielder completed the move a lovely chip over the keeper with the ball resting at the back of the net and earning him his first international goal. 1-0 Ireland in the opening ten minutes.
Team USA didn’t falter though. They consistently attacked the Irish end and their offense paid off just before half time. A poor attempted pass by Irish captain David Meyler was picked up by the Americans and played into the box. An attempted clearance landed to USA captain, Jozy Altidore, whose cross was met by the head of Chris Wondolowski. The header was met by Mix Dsikerud with the Rosenborg midfielder rising up to slot the ball past Shay Given.
Altidore could have put his side into the lead just before the stroke of half time when his shot crashed off the crossbar and went over. However, the first half ended with the sides all square with the Irish on the back foot in the latter of the half.
However, Ireland came out to second have rejuvenated. They upped the tempo in their game and went on the attack. Cyrus Christie sent a fine pass up the flank to Pilkington. However, Daryl Murphy couldn’t connect to his cross and it went out of play.
It wasn’t long after when Man of the Match, Robbie Brady got his first goal of the game. The Hull City midfielder played a nice one-two with McGoldrick and his shot went passed USA keeper, Hamid. It was the newcomer’s second assist of the game, not a bad way to cap off your international debut.
The game went back and forth with attempts at both ends with the American finishing leaving a lot to be desired. However, James McClean, who replaced Pilkington mid way through the second half, got Ireland’s third goal after collecting the ball on the edge of the box. With the crowd shouting for him to shoot, McClean obliged. His shot deflected off Geoff Cameron, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Brady completed the scoring with less than five minutes to go. His free kick curling into the top left hand corner of the goal. It was a lovely goal that topped off a solid Irish performance.
Speaking after the game, manager Martin O’Neill was pleased with the result, saying, “It was nice to win the game. I thought it was a bit tentative in the first half. We scored from our first proper attack of the game, a great through ball by David McGoldrick and Pilkington took it well. I thought America really came into the game then and probably deserved their equaliser. I thought the second half performance was really terrific. To score the goals that we did was astounding.“
With a good victory and display behind them, the Republic of Ireland squad can look ahead to the next match, a visiting Polish side. O’Neill was pleased with his squad’s response to the Scotland defeat but they need to bring a display, like that in the second half, with them in March of next year when they host the Group D leaders.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Given (Elliot ’85), Christie, Pearce, Clark, Meyler (C), Quinn, Brady, Pilkington (McClean ’62), Murphy (Hendrick ’77), McGoldrick (Long ’77), Stokes (McGeady 60′)
Substitutes: Randolph, Keogh, Coleman, O’Shea, Walters
Goals: Pilkington (7′), Brady (56′, 87′), McClean (’82)
Yellow Cards: McGeady (90′), Meyler (93′)
USA: Hamid, Morales (Garza ’65), Besler, Diskerud, Bedoya, Beckerman (Ream ’87), Alitdore (C) (Rubin ’76), Wondolowski (Wood 45′), Cameron, Chandler (Morris ’76), F.Johnson
Substitutes: S.Johnson,Ibarra, Green
Goals: Diskerud (39′)
Yellow Cards: Beckerman (37′), Altidore (66′), Cameron (85′)
Referee: Pawel Raczkowski (Poland)
Man of the Match: Robbie Brady