Denmark U-21 1 Ireland U-21 0
Emil Frederiksen's goal on the half hour clinched victory for Denmark over the Republic of Ireland’s Under-21s in a one-sided friendly in Marbella.
Saturday evening’s workout was the last for Jim Crawford’s side ahead of the European Championship qualifiers kicking off in September and they’ll need an improvement to challenge Italy and Sweden for a place at the 2023 finals.
After overcoming Australia’s Under-23s 2-1 on Wednesday, it was disappointing that Ireland failed to test AC Milan goalkeeper Andreas Jungdal over the 90 minutes, their inability to maximise their few opportunities from set-pieces a frustrating theme.
The Danes created clearcut opportunities either side of the goal and it took an outstanding performance from 17-year-old goalkeeper Dan Rose, making his Under-21 debut, to avoid a heavy defeat.
"We didn’t play particularly well but you can’t fault the lads for their effort," said Crawford afterwards. "It was a challenging game against a team that were top seeds in the recent qualifying draw.
"To keep it at 1-0 was good. There was a lot to learn."
English-born Rose, currently playing with Bundesliga side Schalke, was helpless to prevent Frederiksen finding his top corner with a 20-yard strike. The Irish defence afforded the Sønderjysk forward too much time to spin from Mikkel Kaufmann’s pass and pick his spot.
Earlier, Mark McGuiness was required to produce a goal-line clearance from William Boving’s shot while Mathias Ross Jensen’s header struck the crossbar from the resultant corner.
As Ireland retreated in the second, the Scandinavians squandered chances to extend their lead. Frederiksen was off-target from a couple of efforts while substitute Frederick Winther headed straight at Rose eight minutes from full-time.
Crawford added: "Denmark are a really good team, whose home-based players are in the middle of their season, and they had that sharpness. I thought our lads looked tired."
Overall, Ireland will head into the double-header away to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Luxembourg in early September with two wins and two defeats from their build-up. They came from behind to beat Wales 2-1 in March before Switzerland inflicted a 2-0 defeat in last Sunday’s first game of the three-match series in Spain.
"We were asked to play a number of friendlies in this window against teams that were nowhere near this level," Crawford reasoned.
"There’s not many questions we would have been asked, so we were very interested in the challenges presented by each of the three teams this week. For me, that’s the barometer and we got a good look at the players."
Republic of Ireland: D Rose; A Lyons (F Ebosele 46), M McGuinness, O McEntee, W Ferry; C Coventry, R Johansson; T Wright (G Kilkenny 65), C Noss (B Lawal 46), A Gilbert (L Watson 80); JJ Kayode (C Grant 82).
Denmark: A Jungdal; O Bundgaard; V Jensen (c), V Lund, W Boving, M Ross Jensen, M Kaufmann, J Steen Christensen, O Villadsen, M Warming, E Frederiksen.
Referee: Naranjo Marin (Spain)