Match ends, Republic of Ireland 3, Bulgaria 1.
International friendly: Second-string Republic of Ireland beat Bulgaria 3-1
Two late goals helped a second-string Republic of Ireland side beat Bulgaria 3-1 in Tuesday's friendly in Dublin.
After a dull first half, Alan Browne poked the Irish ahead on 56 minutes after Bulgaria keeper Hristo Ivanov had failed to hold a Ronan Curtis shot.
Ivelin Popov levelled from a penalty on 67 but Kevin Long's header restored the Republic's lead on 83.
Debutant Jack Byrne and Enda Stevens superbly set up a further late goal for another Irish newcomer James Collins.
Impressive Shamrock Rovers midfielder Byrne and Luton striker Collins were among five Republic players to earn debuts as Browne and Long also notched their first international goals.
Bournemouth keeper Mark Travers and Charlton's Josh Cullen made their Republic bows from the start with Collins, Byrne and Burton Albion keeper Kieran O'Hara also given debuts from the bench.
Republic boss Mick McCarthy will have regarded the evening as a useful exercise as his team's unbeaten run in his second Irish reign increased to six games but it's likely he will return to his regular line-up for next month's crucial Euro 2020 qualifier in Georgia.
Hourihane only Irish inclusion from Swiss draw
McCarthy opted to use the friendly as an opportunity to survey his supporting case with Aston Villa's Conor Hourihane - the only player retained from Thursday's 1-1 Group D draw with Switzerland - operating at left-back as the manager perused options to replace the suspended Stevens in Georgia.
Opposite number Krasimir Balakov's nine changes from Saturday's 4-0 thumping at Wembley included giving a first international appearance to 37-year-old keeper Hristo Ivanov, but the veteran was to endure a nervous evening.
The Republic's scratch side could find little fluency in the first half as the Bulgarians created the better openings with Georgi Pashov and Kristian Dimitrov failing to get full purchase on headed chances as the home defence looked uncertain.
Portuguese-based, David Luiz hair-alike, Bozhidar Kraev produced the only real quality of the opening 45 minutes - highlighted by a fine ball playing in Daniel Mladenov which Cullen blocked at full stretch.
Pace finally picks up after half-time
We may have had our doubts but the fare could only improve in the second half and thankfully it did as both teams began to inject a bit of urgency into their play.
The Bulgarians had a handball penalty claim turned down as Republic skipper Egan got his body in the way of a point-blank Mladenov chance before the home side took the lead.
Ronan Curtis' speculative shot shouldn't have troubled Ivanov in the 56th minute but he spilled the ball which allowed Scott Hogan to square for Preston's Browne to poke home.
Sloppy play from Cyrus Christie helped gift the Bulgarians their equaliser as he was dispossessed by Goranov on the edge of the box, with Egan at full stretch hauling down Kraev and substitute Popov emphatically netting the resultant spot-kick.
But Long restored the Republic's lead seven minutes from time as Ivanov completely misjudged a Byrne corner, which allowed the Burnley man to head into an unguarded net.
League of Ireland player Byrne looked accomplished after his introduction and his clever pass to Stevens was first-timed into the box by the Sheffield United defender, Collins converting to seal the Republic's win.
R. of Ireland
- 16TraversSubstituted forO'Haraat 76'minutes
- 14HourihaneSubstituted forMcCleanat 69'minutes
- 18O'DowdaSubstituted forStevensat 76'minutes
- 19JudgeSubstituted forByrneat 59'minutes
- 17CurtisSubstituted forHendrickat 84'minutes
- 10HoganSubstituted forCollinsat 60'minutesBooked at 84mins
- 3DimitrovSubstituted forPanayotovat 80'minutes
- 14NedyalkovSubstituted forBozhikovat 59'minutes
- 22DimitrovSubstituted forCristaldo Fariasat 59'minutes
- 17MilanovSubstituted forPopovat 45'minutes
- 16MalinovSubstituted forTerzievat 81'minutes
- 19MladenovSubstituted forDespodovat 68'minutes
- 7Nascimento da Costa
- 9Cristaldo Farias
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Republic of Ireland 3, Bulgaria 1.
Attempt missed. John Egan (Republic of Ireland) header from very close range is too high. Assisted by Jack Byrne with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Georgi Pashov.
Goal! Republic of Ireland 3, Bulgaria 1. James Collins (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from very close range to the top right corner. Assisted by Enda Stevens with a cross.
James Collins (Republic of Ireland) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by James Collins (Republic of Ireland).
Vasil Bozhikov (Bulgaria) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Jeff Hendrick replaces Ronan Curtis.
Goal! Republic of Ireland 2, Bulgaria 1. Kevin Long (Republic of Ireland) header from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jack Byrne with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Georgi Terziev.
Attempt blocked. Josh Cullen (Republic of Ireland) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by James Collins.
Attempt blocked. James McClean (Republic of Ireland) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jack Byrne.
Substitution, Bulgaria. Georgi Terziev replaces Kristiyan Malinov.
Substitution, Bulgaria. Vasil Panayotov replaces Kristian Dimitrov.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Enda Stevens replaces Callum O'Dowda.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Kieran O'Hara replaces Mark Travers.
James Collins (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Vasil Bozhikov (Bulgaria).
Attempt blocked. Kiril Despodov (Bulgaria) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Kristian Dimitrov.
Foul by James Collins (Republic of Ireland).
Simeon Slavchev (Bulgaria) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Cyrus Christie (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Kiril Despodov (Bulgaria).
Offside, Republic of Ireland. Jack Byrne tries a through ball, but James Collins is caught offside.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. James McClean replaces Conor Hourihane.
Substitution, Bulgaria. Kiril Despodov replaces Daniel Mladenov.
Goal! Republic of Ireland 1, Bulgaria 1. Ivelin Popov (Bulgaria) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the top left corner.
Penalty conceded by John Egan (Republic of Ireland) after a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty Bulgaria. Bozhidar Kraev draws a foul in the penalty area.
Attempt missed. Jack Byrne (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Josh Cullen.
Offside, Republic of Ireland. Jack Byrne tries a through ball, but Conor Hourihane is caught offside.
Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Ivan Goranov.
Attempt missed. Josh Cullen (Republic of Ireland) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Cyrus Christie with a cross.
Foul by John Egan (Republic of Ireland).
Kristian Dimitrov (Bulgaria) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Kristian Dimitrov.
Attempt blocked. Conor Hourihane (Republic of Ireland) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. James Collins replaces Scott Hogan.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Jack Byrne replaces Alan Judge.