REPORT | Australia U23 1-2 Ireland U21
Substitute Tierney netted in the 90th minute with a header – his first touch – to give Ireland the win in a well fought game at the Marbella Football Centre.
Jim Crawford made six changes to the side that faced Switzerland with Bohemians’ Andy Lyons making his Under-21s debut.
Will Ferry, Luca Connell, Conor Noss, Gavin Kilkenny and Jonathan Afolabi also came into the starting XI.
The first big chance of the game fell to Australia.
Panayioti Dimitri Armenakas broke down the right and cut in and curled an effort towards goal that struck the post.
Ireland were strong in possession but found the Australians difficult to penetrate. The Socceroos looked dangerous on the counter with Anthony Kalik attempt in the 23rd minute flying harmlessly over the bar.
And it was Kalik who had a great chance to put Australia ahead. He was put through on goal but could only find the gloves of Brian Maher with his attempt.
Ireland came close just before the break. Quick play between Connell and Kilkenny saw Noss freed on the right. Noss nutmegged his man and laid-it off for Watson on the edge of the box but the Derby County man couldn’t hit the target.
At the break Joshua Kayode was brought on for Jonathan Afolabi as Ireland looked to break the deadlock.
And 12 minutes into the second half it was Ireland who took the lead. Link-up play on the right between Lyons and Noss saw the ball squared into the six-yard box and turned into his own net by Jay Rich-Bahuelou.
Ireland went in search of a second but Australia struck back in the 72nd minute. Ramy Najjarine curled a left footed effort beyond Maher in the Ireland goal.
Ireland had a penalty claim turned away when Kayode appeared to be felled in the area after he was found from a neat ball by Ryan Johansson.
Kayode was involved in another penalty claim moments later but again his calls fell on deaf ears.
But the winning moment came in the 90th minute when substitute Tyreik Wright collected the ball in his own half and ran at the Australian defence, his pin-point cross was met by Tierney who timed his run to perfection to nod home.
Manager Jim Crawford said after the game: “In the first half we had a couple of scary moments where they had some good opportunities.
“We tightened up in the second half and our first goal was some good play down the right hand side and forced them into the own goal.
"We made a couple of changes as we needed to freshen things up and the boys who came on gave us that injection of pace and forward running and you saw Tyreik Wright making a fantastic run on the left and Ross Tierney scoring a magnificent header – I’m absolutely delighted for him.”
Republic of Ireland: Maher; Lyons, McEntee, McGuinness, Ferry; Connell (Tierney 87) , Noss (Gilbert, 72), Coventry, Watson (Wright 60), Kilkenny (Johansson 60) , Afolabi (Kayode, 46) .
Unused substitutes: Blair (GK), Rose (GK), Roughan, Richards, Lawal, Whelan, Flynn, Ebosele, MacNulty, Grant.
Australia: Holmes; Kazuki O’Toole, Cleur, Rich, Watts, Iredale, Armenakas, Kalik, Popovic, Pun Teague, Tokich.
Substitutes: Maynard-Brewer (GK), Grdic, James Ryan, Arzani, Ouzounidis, Najjarine, Pennington, Jean Francois, Chapman (GK), Joseph Miller, Prso,
Referee: Parejo Nieto (ESP)