Switzerland U21 0-2 Republic U21
Bolton striker Jon Walters scored two goals on his debut to stun the Group 10
leaders and make it a very happy return to Neuchatel for manager Don Givens.
Don Givens' side defeated Russia last month
It was the perfect way for Givens to celebrate being awarded a new two-year
contract, and it showed there are some bright youngsters emerging for the
Republic of Ireland.
Givens played for the final eight years of his career at Neuchatel Xamax, and
when he retired in 1987 he went on to coach the club for two years.
So it was an emotional return to the Stade de la Maladiere for the former
Republic striker as his experimental team blitzed the Swiss with goals from
Walters after 61 and 74 minutes.
Givens handed debuts to three of Gerry Smyth's Under-20 squad - Blackburn's
John Fitzgerald, Paul Keegan of Leeds and Walters - as the Irish attempted to
take a glimpse into the future and also aid preparations for the Under-20 World
Cup in the United Arab Emirates in November and December.
The Irish weathered an early storm from the Swiss, who went into this final
qualifier with six wins from the previous seven games of the campaign.
Stefan Lichsteiner showed quick feet on the right of the box to set up striker
Johan Volanthen to drive a low shot just inches wide of Dan Connor's upright
after two minutes.
The visitors' first real chance came after 18 minutes but Swiss stopper Marco
Wolfli reacted smartly to the threat of Sunderland's Sean Thornton who was
looking to get on the end Wes Hoolahan's corner from close range.
Sunderland's Sean Thornton was in action for the Irish
Ireland's confidence was up and Thornton was in the thick of it again after 22
minutes when he played in Stephen Elliott but his shot from six yards was
brilliantly blocked with a last ditch Swiss tackle.
Ireland did well to frustrate their hosts and created three good chances
before the break.
Walters met Elliott's cross with a powerful volley which hit the bar and flew
over, then on the half hour Elliott collected Hoolahan's pass but screwed a left
foot drive wide from 20 yards.
Three minutes before the break Borussia Dortmund full-back Patrick Kohlmann
hit a left foot rocket from distance which flew wide.
The Irish took the lead in the 61st minute with Tottenham full-back Stephen Kelly's deep cross to the far post headed home by Walters.
Ireland's sensational victory was complete when Walters scored with another header after 74 minutes.
This time Shelbourne's Hoolahan was the provider with a corner which Walters
finished from close range.
Both sets of fans reserved the biggest roar of the evening for Walters when he was replaced eight minutes from the end.