Collins hits hat-trick in U21 victory
Liechtenstein U-21 1-4 Republic of Ireland U-21
A HAT-TRICK by James Collins helped the Republic of Ireland Under-21s come from behind to beat Liechtenstein tonight (Tuesday) in Eschen.
The hosts took the lead against Italy at home last Friday before slipping to a heavy defeat and a repeat occurred when Ireland visited the SportsPark.
The three points were vital for Ireland in their quest to keep on the coat-tails of Turkey and Italy at the top of qualifying Group 7 for the 2013 European Championships.
And, despite falling behind to Simon Pirker's angled drive in the 14th minute, the Irish responded with character to kill the game off before the break.
Ireland remained patient in their pursuit of an equaliser and, on 26 minutes, Robbie Brady's pinpoint corner was nodded home by the unmarked Collins.
Four minutes later, Ireland raced ahead. Greg Cunningham, earning his first Under-21, was involved by sending a delivery into the box where Collins gained enough time and space to guide another header past Mario Tichy.
The Shrewsbury Town forward didn't have long to wait for his hat-trick. Aidan White spotted Collins ghosting into the box and his left-wing cross was stabbed into the back of the net by another top-drawer finish for his seven-minute treble.
Ireland were utterly dominant at this stage and illustrated their supremacy by making it 4-1 six minutes before the break when Shane Duffy profited from another Brady corner by nodding powerfully to the net.
The second half produced few chances at either end but the outcome had been well decided at that stage and King's side go into out the reverse fixture on November 14 at the Sligo Showgrounds with six points from their opening three qualifiers.
REP OF IRELAND: McLoughlin (MK Dons); Connolly (Bolton Wanderers), Canavan (Scunthorpe), Kiernan (Wigan Athletic), Cunningham (Manchester City); Brady (Hull City), Towell (Hibernian), Clifford (Chelsea), White (Leeds United); Barton (Preston North End); Collins (Shrewsbury Town).
Subs: Hourihane (Plymouth Argyle) for Clifford (66 mins), Stevens (Shamrock Rovers) for Cunningham (69 mins), Greene (Sligo Rovers) for Brady (79 mins)
Not used: Mason (Cardiff City), Dixon (Bradford City), McCarey (Wolves), Canavan (Scunthorpe United).
LIECHTENSTEIN: Tichy; F. Eberle, Kaufmann, Flatz, Hanselmann; Ospelt (Brandle 83 mins), Hasler, F. Eberle, Armando; Pirker, Kieber.
REFEREE: Nikola Dabanovic (Montenegro)