The Republic of Ireland put up a spirited but nonetheless fruitless fight against reigning world champions Spain in their international friendly last night as the favourites run out comfortable 2-0 winners against the Irish.
Ireland certainly didn’t do their reputation any harm with a stern performance in New York City; holding out until the second half before Spain managed to break them down.
In the end it was two substitutes who earned the victory. The first goal came courtesy of Tottenham Hotspur transfer target Roberto Soldado of Valencia in the 68th minute but the icing on the cake came with the killer blow with just two minutes left on the clock.
And the goal was started and finished by Chelsea attacking midfielder Juan Mata. Mata had a good game after coming on for Xavi on 69 minutes and topped off the display with a neat goal to round off the result.
After picking up the ball out wide just inside his own half he wriggled away from three Irish defenders before laying the ball into the feet of Arsenal compatriot Santi Cazorla.
The two then exchanged a delightful one-two as Mata advanced beyond the defence and nonchalantly advanced the ball beyond the onrushing Darren Randolph.
This summer should have been quiet for Mata but that has not been the case. While many would have felt he was indispensable to the Chelsea cause after his magnificent season last year there have been numerous rumours relating to Jose Mourinho apparently being willing to listen to offers for the player.
Personally it seems a little far-fetched to believe that Mourinho would allow arguably Chelsea’s best player leave but if he is genuinely giving it consideration perhaps this goal will provide a timely reminder of his talents…
image: © Ronnie Macdonald