Seamus Coleman earned his 14th cap as a largely second string Republic of Ireland went down by two goals to nil against Spain at Yankee Stadium in New York on Tuesday night.
The Killybegs native played on the right of midfield as Giovanni Trapattoni’s side held the reigning world and European champions out for 69 minutes.
However, the deadlock was finally broken by substitute Roberto Soldado before another replacement, Juan Mata of Chelsea, rounded off the win two minutes from time.
Vicente Del Bosque’s Spain, who started with eight Barcelona players, controlled the first half against an Irish team missing a host of regulars.
Pedro Rodríguez hit the woodwork when his effort came back off the underside of the bar and Irish goalkeeper David Forde denied David Villa.
Conor Sammon had Ireland’s best chance of the first half, when, after winning possession the Derby County frontman shot wide from a tight angle, while James McCarthy was impressing in midfield.
Everton defender Coleman did well in possession and enjoyed one fine moment when he left Jordi Alba for dead before crossing.
The former Sligo Rovers full-back was lining out in the more advanced role to block the advance of Alba.
In the second half, a poor clearance by Darren O’Dea was picked up by Alvaro Arbeloa and Valencia striker Soldado opened his body to volley across David Forde.
A dogged Ireland had chances to equalise, most impressively in the 81st minute when James McClean got through on the left and fired off a shot that Iker Casillas deflected over for a corner.
From the resultant delivery, Stephen Kelly won a header that Casillas did wonderfully well to hook onto the crossbar.
Then, from the rebound, Sean St Ledger found the net, but Simon Cox was adjudged offside.
Mata sealed the victory in the 88th minute, collecting a pass from Santi Cazorla and sliding a shot past substitute goalkeeper Darren Randolph.
Ireland will go into the new season’s final four qualifiers in fourth place in Uefa World Cup qualifying Group C following Sweden’s 2-0 win over the Faroe Islands at the Friends Arena on Tuesday night, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring twice.
Germany currently have 16 points from six outings, with Austria, Sweden and Ireland are all on 11 points having played six times apiece.
Ireland welcome Sweden to the Aviva Stadium on Friday, September 6, before taking on Austria in Vienna four days later.
October’s double-header sees Germany host Ireland in Cologne and Kazakhstan come to Dublin.