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Ireland crush US in friendly soccer match

DUBLIN: Ireland put their Euro 2016 disappointment firmly behind them with a star-spangled 4-1 victory over the USA at Lansdowne Road on Tuesday night.

Martin O’Neill’s men thrilled the large crowd with a performance that provided plenty of optimism after the disappointing 1-0 defeat to Scotland last Friday night.

This was only a friendly encounter but the performance of Robbie Brady and debutants Cyrus Christie and David McGoldrick –- who had two assists on the night –- will please both management and support ahead of next year’s qualifying challenges.

O’Neill made 11 changes to the side that started in the defeat to Scotland, with a host of fringe players given the opportunity to impress, and with Anthony Pilkington and Brady (two) scoring, it worked.

Derby County’s Christie and Ipswich Town’s McGoldrick made their debuts and also did their chances no harm, with the latter particularly impressive.

Jurgen Klinsmann, coming off the back of a 2-1 defeat to Colombia in London, made seven changes to his side –- with four MLS stars allowed to return to their clubs ahead of the weekend’s championship games.

The Americans still fielded a more experienced starting XI than the Irish, and so it was surprising that they began so slowly.

If anything, this shadow Ireland team looked the more comfortable all around, and it took just seven minutes for the opening goal to arrive.

McGoldrick received possession just inside the US half and returned the ball to Anthony Pilkington with a perfectly weighted through ball, cutting the visitor’s defence wide open.

The Cardiff City winger complemented his team-mate’s skill with a stunning chip finish over Bill Hamid in the American goal to give Ireland a deserved lead.

Alejandro Bedoya, one of few Americans to impress in the first half, did well on the right wing, but his cut back to Max Diskerud was cleared by Christie.

Timmy Chandler fired over moments later, before Alex Pearce had to clear from another Bedoya cross, just beneath the crossbar.

Ireland were in control but Fabian Johnson came closest to adding to the score with a rasping shot that clipped the outside of Shay Given’s post.

Murphy looked odds-on to add a second goal on 28 minutes after he linked up with team-mate McGoldrick in the US box, but following a clever dink to create space for a shot, his effort was aimed straight at Hamid.

Kyle Beckerman saw yellow 36 minutes in for a careless tackle on Pilkington, but the travelling fans were cheering soon after, when Diskerud levelled the scores.

Meyler lost possession in a dangerous position and Wondolowski made it easy for Diskerud when he cushioned Jozy Altidore’s cross to set up a tap-in.

The visitor’s could have been ahead at the break after more good wing play from Bedoya, but Altidore’s shot smacked back off the crossbar.

The US attacker forced another save from Given after the restart but it was Ireland fans who were celebrating soon after, when Brady scored his second international goal.

Brady won possession deep in the US half, fed McGoldrick and the debutant had a second assist of the night with a clever back heel that put Brady straight through on goal to finish.

Given pulled off a wonderful save to deny Bobby Wood, but Hamid had no chance with McClean’s goal, which took a huge deflection of Geoff Cameron.

The crowd were already cheering for the final whistle but Ireland continued to attack and Brady’s stunning free kick had them on their feet, to wrap up victory.

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