Parrott strikes late as Ireland beat Hungary

International friendly

Republic of Ireland 2-1 Hungary 

Troy Parrott came off the bench to secure a hard-fought victory for Ireland as they beat Hungary 2-1 at the Aviva Stadium.

Taking on the Euro 2024-bound Hungarians, who came into the game off the back of a 14-game unbeaten streak, Adam Idah handed the home side the lead in the 36th minute with a fine headed effort.

Hungary were back on terms before the half-time break thanks to Adam Lang’s close-range effort, but it was Parrott who would have the last word as he grabbed an injury time winner to hand John O’Shea his first win as Ireland manager.

It was a lively start from the Euro 2024 hopefuls who had the Ireland back line scrambling across the width of the pitch, looking to work out where the runs were coming from.

Quick and slick from the Hungarians in those opening minutes, eventually working the ball into space on the right flank before a dangerous ball was slipped into the box.

Loic Nego arrived unmarked, but the midfielder did not make great contact and in fact, helped it to Caoimhin Kelleher with his thigh and without any pace.

Finn Azaz was showing early for Ireland, looking to link midfield and attack, while always attempting to play the ball forward, and almost sending Sammie Szmodics through in the sixth minute, however, the Blackburn forward was crowded out.

Ireland were lucky not to concede in the 12th minute as Shane Duffy was caught out by the bounce as Barnabas Varga cut inside and found Nego. The Le Havre man should have hit the target, however, his curling effort remained outside the post.

The closest Ireland came to the Hungary goal was from a 16th-minute set-piece aimed at Shane Duffy, but the keeper came and commanded to punch clear.

Adam Idah heads Ireland into the lead.

Then three minutes later there was a shout for a penalty as Idah barged forward, doing well to take on a trio of white shirts. The striker then had a run at the last man and was checked as he clipped the ball into the box.

The referee was right on the spot, and never gave it a second thought.

Another great chance for Hungary arrived in the 29th minute as Josh Cullen was dispossessed just inside the Ireland half, which led to Milos Kerkez arriving on the left and drilling a low effort on goal, but Caoimhin Kelleher was perfectly placed to bat it away.

More trouble averted in the 35th minute, after Cullen gave the ball away just outside his own box, but luckily for the midfielder there were numbers back and Ireland cleared.

And then they scored.

Less than a minute later, Adam Idah was crashing a fine header into the back of the net.

Nothing appeared on as the home side pushed forward, working the ball up the right flank.

Will Smallbone then continued his run into space in the corner and followed the through ball out wide.

The Southampton man proceeded to deliver an incredible ball at pace between the two centre halves for his compatriot to arrive unmarked finish in style.

But the lead only last four minutes as Hungary went short with a free before the ball into the box took a wicked deflection to loop it into the mix. Helped on with a flicked header, Adam Lang arrived unmarked – and onside – at the back post and slammed the ball into the roof of the net.

Adam Lang brings Hungary level.

Jake O’Brien came on at half-time to make his international debut; the big Cork defender has enjoyed a remarkable season at Lyon in the French top tier.

Liam Scales was also sent on as Shane Duffy and Matt Doherty departed, allowing captain Seamus Coleman move back out to the right wing-back position.

O’Brien found himself immediately involved as Hungary camped inside the Ireland half for the opening minutes of the second half and was on hand to make a decent block from a snap shot from the edge of the box.

John O’Shea’s side eventually got past the halfway line as Azaz almost sent Idah clear on goal, but the striker had just set off a moment too early.

Ten minutes in, Kelleher had to be alert and went full stretch to tip Roland Sallai’s effort around the post after Dominik Szoboszlai raced forward into acres of space.

And the keeper had to get down smartly from the subsequent corner as Hungary played it short to the edge of the box, allowing Andras Schafer time to drill a dipping effort at real pace.

Things were not getting any better for the home side, forcing the manager to make some changes in the 62nd minute as Troy Parrott and Callum O’Dowda came on to perhaps offer a more attacking option in their respective positions.

But as the subs arrived, followed by another helping minutes later, a stalemate of sorts set in, albeit with Hungary still the team offering the most attacking intent.

A 75th-minute set-piece offered a moment of excitement as the ball was whipped across the Irish six-yard box, allowing Liam Scales to show the quality that he has brought to the Ireland defence over the past 12 months, making a vital clearance.

Michael Obafemi was on for Idah and offering more explosive pace in attack but Ireland were struggling to get the numbers forward to threaten.

Parrott hands John O’Shea his first win as Ireland manager.

O’Dowda took it upon himself to race at the Hungary unit as he strode forward with real purpose with ten minutes remaining, before sliding a perfect pass into the path of Szmodics racing up the left flank. The ball into the box was overhit, and while it was kept alive, a corner kick was all that could be gained from the exciting foray forward.

In the 82nd minute, it was Hungary’s turn to counter but there was an element of fatigue to the final effort as Sallai’s effort was easily saved.

More Irish pressure up the right followed with Coleman cleverly cutting inside before Knight was bundled over but deemed to have dived by the referee.

Approaching the 90-minute mark, the home side went back on the attack looking to get the win that the manager has been craving since taking over on an interim basis.

And captain Coleman found himself involved at both ends of the pitch as he first, hooked a volley just wide of the post, before getting back into position to make a vital block as Zsolt Nagi looked to pull the trigger from close range.

Hungary stayed forward, but it was one of the Ireland substitutes who turned it around all by himself.

In form striker Parrott, who had bagged two hat-tricks with his club in recent weeks, charged down the ball deep inside his own half and proceeded to chase it up the pitch, getting another touch to take him clear into the opposition half.

Suddenly it was Parrott and Szmodics racing clear leaving it up to the young Dubliner to make the call to shoot or slide left.

He backed himself over sideways to Szmodics and while it wasn’t the most prolific of finishes, it made its way past the keeper and into the back of the net to steal the show for the home side.

Republic of Ireland: Caoimhin Kelleher; Shane Duffy (Liam Scales HT), Dara O’Shea, Seamus Coleman (capt); Matt Doherty (Jake O’Brien HT), Robbie Brady (Callum O’Dowda 62); Josh Cullen (Jason Knight 79), Will Smallbone, Finn Azaz (Troy Parrott 62); Sammie Szmodics, Adam Idah (Michael Obafemi 71)

Hungary: Peter Gulacsi (Denes Dibusz HT); Adam Lang, Marton Dardai , Willi Orban; Milos Kerkez (Zsolt Nagy 71), Andras Schafer (Callum Styles 71), Loic Nego (Endre Botka HT), Adam Nagy; Dominik Szoboszlai (capt), Roland Sallai, Barnabas Varga (Laszlo Kleinheisler 62)

Referee: Luis Godinho (POR)

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