Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny said he was pleased by how his players responded to a “kick in the teeth” in their friendly win over Andorra.
Marc Vales headed the minnows into a surprise second-half lead before a quickfire Troy Parrott double turned the game in the Republic’s favour.
Jason Knight and Daryl Horgan added late goals to secure Kenny’s first win.
“It’s a game you’re expected to win, there’s no doubt about that,” Kenny told RTE.
“But having said that, once you concede a goal like that on the run that we’ve been on, there was a fair degree of pressure on the players.”
The Dubliner added: “To come back in the manner that they did was excellent, to score four goals, and there was real quality in the goals as well.
“It’s the difference confidence can make, I think Troy’s goal was the turning point and the players seemed to be more confident after he got that goal and we played much better after that.”
The result ended the Republic’s 11-game winless run under Kenny and will inject much-needed positivity into the squad after a dismal start to the former Dundalk manager’s reign.
Even with the disastrous World Cup qualifier defeat by Luxembourg still relatively fresh in the memory, the Republic were expected to comfortably see off an Andorran side that had lost their last seven, but were frustrated during a drab first half.
But the Republic’s lack of confidence in front of goal showed when James Collins failed to guide a header past young Andorran goalkeeper Iker Alvarez eight minutes before the break.
The visitors were then punished when Vales popped up with a 52nd-minute header after being left completely unmarked in the penalty area.
Thankfully for Kenny, though, that goal jolted the Republic into life as Tottenham Hotspur forward Parrott netted twice in three minutes before late strikes from Knight and Horgan secured a long overdue win and spared this Irish side from another embarrassing result.
Parrott seizes his chance
Long touted as one of Irish football’s most promising prospects, Parrott’s senior international career has been disrupted by injury after starring for the Under-21s under Kenny.
But the Spurs striker, who spent the 2020-21 season on loan at Millwall and Ipswich Town, showed some nice touches in the first half before grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck to turn the tide in the Republic’s favour around the hour mark.
First, Parrott surged through the Andorran defence before finding Iker’s right-hand bottom corner with an unerring right-footed shot from the edge of the box to crown a fine individual move.
Almost straight from the restart, Parrott then squared the ball for Ronan Curtis, who failed to convert from point-blank range before the Spurs striker rose at the far post to head home from a Hourihane cross to complete a swift – and much-needed – turnaround, much to the delight of his manager.
“For one so young to come up with two goals when he’s not having an exceptional time in his own career at the moment, he’s just finding his feet a bit, showed the character that I believe he has, and the quality,” said Kenny.
“The players overall responded and scored some very good goals, so we’ll certainly take that.”
While his two goals were undoubtedly the highlight, Parrott demonstrated enough intelligent running and astute decision-making in possession to firmly thrust himself into contention for a starting spot in the Republic’s World Cup qualifying triple-header in September.
It was a satisfying night, too, for Knight and Horgan, both of whom opened their international accounts with late goals to ease any Irish nerves of a late Andorran fightback.
Knight converted Horgan’s cross from close range before turning provider for the Wycombe Wanderers winger, who finished the job with a well-taken header as the Republic scored four goals in a game for the first time in nearly five years.
The Republic are back in friendly action on Tuesday when they face Euros-bound Hungary in Budapest (19:00 BST).
- 12Álvarez de Eulate MolneSubstituted forPires Costaat 77′minutes
- 15San NicolásSubstituted forDe Pablos Solaat 73′minutes
- 17Cervós Moro
- 10Clemente GarcésSubstituted forMartínezat 60′minutes
- 4Rebés RuizSubstituted forGarcia Gonzalezat 72′minutes
- 8Vieira de Vasconcelos
- 16Martínez PalauSubstituted forLima Solàat 76′minutes
- 19FernándezSubstituted forSánchez Alburquerqueat 59′minutes
- 6Lima Solà
- 7Pujol Pons
- 9Sánchez Alburquerque
- 11Moreno Marín
- 13Pires Costa
- 22Bernat Cuadros
- 23De Pablos Sola
- 24Garcia Gonzalez
R. of Ireland
- 20O’SheaSubstituted forDuffyat 87′minutes
- 11McCleanSubstituted forManningat 86′minutes
- 8HourihaneSubstituted forArterat 87′minutes
- 10ParrottSubstituted forMcGrathat 82′minutes
- 7CurtisSubstituted forHorganat 66′minutes
- 19CollinsSubstituted forIdahat 66′minutes
- Xavier Estrada Fernández
Match ends, Andorra 1, Republic of Ireland 4.
Second Half ends, Andorra 1, Republic of Ireland 4.
Offside, Republic of Ireland. Ryan Manning tries a through ball, but Jason Knight is caught offside.
Goal! Andorra 1, Republic of Ireland 4. Daryl Horgan (Republic of Ireland) header from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jason Knight with a cross.
Attempt saved. Ryan Manning (Republic of Ireland) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Harry Arter replaces Conor Hourihane.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Shane Duffy replaces Dara O’Shea.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Ryan Manning replaces James McClean.
Goal! Andorra 1, Republic of Ireland 3. Jason Knight (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Daryl Horgan with a cross.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Jamie McGrath replaces Troy Parrott.
Substitution, Andorra. Xisco Pires replaces Iker Álvarez.
Substitution, Andorra. Ildefons Lima replaces Álex Martínez.
Foul by Conor Hourihane (Republic of Ireland).
Aaron Sánchez (Andorra) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Joan Cervós.
Substitution, Andorra. Eric De Pablos replaces Moises San Nicolás.
Substitution, Andorra. Christian Garcia replaces Marc Rebés.
Foul by James McClean (Republic of Ireland).
Cristian Martínez (Andorra) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Offside, Republic of Ireland. Daryl Horgan tries a through ball, but Adam Idah is caught offside.