Celtic youngster Rocco Vata was the standout performer for the Republic of Ireland’s under-21s on Tuesday evening.
The young Irish side kept up their 100% start to qualifying with a 3-0 victory over San Marino in Cork.
The opposition are hardly one of the better international youth sides around. Yet Vata still stood out on the evening, netting two goals.
His first strike, after seven minutes, saw him convert from close range at the back post. His second, on the brink of half-time, was a smashed effort from a tight angle on the right-hand side.
Vata has only recently made the step up to under-21 level. However, he is already earning plaudits in Ireland, with the Irish Times saying some very flattering things after the midweek clash.
They say that Ireland “struggled to find their rhythm” for much of the game but that Vata’s goals “helped to settle any nerves”.
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The Celtic man is described as the “standout player” in the game. He switched between the left and right wings to great effect, laying on plenty of opportunities for his teammates, as well as netting the goals.
Interestingly enough, it’s also reported that full Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny was in attendance at Turner’s Cross. Vata will certainly have made a positive impression on him.
Bosun Lawal was also in the Ireland team and showed an “impressive range of passing” according to the paper. So all around a pretty good night.
Celtic rejected a late Nottingham Forest advance for Vata this summer, and the club intend to tie him down to a new, long-term contract. They’re also keen to turn him from a winger into a more central striker, so it will be interesting to see how things go in that regard.
He certainly showed the finishing of a prolific forward in Cork.