Switzerland Under-21s 2-0 Republic of Ireland Under-21s
Switzerland scored a goal in each half today to inflict defeat on the Republic of Ireland in the first of this week's three friendly games in Marbella.
Jim Crawford's side responded well to the concession of Leonidas Stergiou’s opener on 12 minutes but failed to capitalise on a sustained spell of pressure approaching the break.
Once the Swiss survived that onslaught, they improved in the second half and substitute Gabriel Bares added a 52nd-minute second to seal a deserved victory.
Ireland have two more workouts, against Australia on Wednesday and Denmark on Saturday, before their 2023 European Championship begins in September with an away double-header in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Luxembourg.
Crawford handed debuts to starters Oisin McEntee, Festy Ebosele, Lewis Richards and Ryan Johansson, with a fifth, Leicester City's Shane Flynn, appearing off the bench in the second half as he attempted to broaden his pool ahead of the competitive series.
The Swiss had six members of their squad which reached the European finals in their ranks, including Alex Jankewitz, the midfielder infamously sent off two minutes into his Southampton debut against Manchester United in February.
Stergiou, a regular with recently-crowned Swiss champions St Gallen, was of their experienced players and the defender pounced to bundle the ball home when Ireland failed to deal with a free-kick into the box.
With Jankewitz dominating midfield, Ireland were struggling for fluency and almost fell further behind when Kastriot Imer’s shot flew a yard over.
That was the cue for Ireland to come alive and Tyriek Wright had a penalty claim rejected when he was bundled over in the box.
Ireland forced six corners in the 11 minutes heading into the break, creating excellent chances from two of them. Oisin McEntee couldn’t angle his header on target from Wright’s cross, while the Aston Villa winger himself fizzed a shot wide following a rehearsed corner to the near post.
That would be as much as Ireland mustered in the attacking sense, as they didn’t get much joy up front in the second half.
Imer raid from just inside Ireland’s half was halted by a late challenge by Festy Ebosele but the referee played advantage, allowing substitute Gabriel Bares to crack a shot straight inside Brian Maher’s near post.
Bares might have notched a couple more, while only a brilliant one-handed save by Maher from Christopher Lungoyi’s close-range volley prevented a more comprehensive scoreline.
Ireland: B Maher; F Ebosele (S Flynn 77), M McGuinness, O McEntee, L Richards (G Kilkenny 57); C Coventry (L Connell 71), R Johansson (C Noss 46); L Watson (A Gilbert 70), C Grant (W Ferry 57), T Wright; JJ Kayode (J Afolabi 57).
Switzerland: Saipi; Gantenbeim, Stergiou, Burch, Kronig; Sohm; Jankewitz, Males, Imeri, Mambinbi; Stojilkovic.