Hatters striker Collins scores on Ireland debut against Bulgaria

James Collins celebrates his debut goal for Ireland this evening
James Collins celebrates his debut goal for Ireland this evening

Luton striker James Collins scored on his international debut for the Republic of Ireland as they defeated Bulgaria 3-1 in a friendly at the Aviva Stadium this evening.

The Hatters frontman was only introduced into the fray on the hour mark for Scott Hogan, with the hosts leading 1-0 through Alan Browne's goal four minutes previously, poking home from Scott Hogan's pass after Bulgaria keeper Hristo Ivanov failed to hold Ronan Curtis' shot.

Ivelin Popov levelled with a penalty on 67 minutes, but Kevin Long's header restored the Republic's lead with seven to play.

Then came the moment for Collins, who had already been booked, as in the 86th minute, he showed all his goalscoring instincts to meet Enda Stevens' cross on the volley and beat keeper Ivanov from close range to complete the victory.

Reacting on Twitter, Luton club captain Alan Sheehan said: "James collins. What a man and player. So buzzing for him. Goal on Ireland debut. What dreams are made of."

Meanwhile, former Town boss Mick Harford, currently head of recruitment, added: "Congratulations to Collo, on his international debut and capping it with a proper centre forwards goal.

"Brilliant Collo. #COYH."