July 24 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Norwich City duo Wes Hoolahan and Anthony Pilkington felt the full force of World Cup hopefuls Portugal in the Republic of Ireland’s 5-1 friendly defeat in New Jersey in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Hoolahan played 63 minutes before being replaced by Robbie Keane whilst Pilkington was introduced by Martin O’Neill for the final 23 minutes of Ireland’s final match on their summer tour.
Portugal’s superstar Ronaldo proved his fitness after knee and thigh problems since helping Real Madrid to a tenth European Cup success with a 66-minute outing for Paulo Bento’s side.
Hugo Almeida headed Portugal in front from a Silvestre Varela cross after only two minutes, and it was 2-0 when Richard Keogh deflected a Fabio Coentrao cross into his own net.
Ronaldo’s header was then saved by David Forde for Almeida to follow up and score before James McClean pulled one back with his first senior goal for the Republic seven minutes before the break after profiting from Hoolahan’s quickly-taken free kick to cut inside and clip a left foot shot past Rui Patricio. But Manchester United winger Nani came off the bench to set up further goals in the second half for Vieirinha and Coentrao as the Irish finished their summer programme on a low note.
“It was as tough a game as we expected it to be,” said O’Neill. “But it was also a game that I wanted us to participate in because this it is what it is about - playing one of the best teams in the world heading to the World Cup.
“I felt we were a touch nervous at the start and those are the things that over the course of the European Championships you have to try and cut out. I feel it is not disheartening in the sense that it was 3-1 and if we shut up shop, it is 3-1 and it doesn’t seem so bad. I am not too bothered. I have done this before at club level, trying to chase games and stay as positive as possible.”