Mexico beat Ireland 3-1 at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey this morning.
Irish boss Martin O’Neill experimented with a 3-5-2 formation, with Richard Keogh, Shane Duffy and John Egan as the three centre halves.
Conor Hourihane sat in front of the back three, which allowed Daryl Horgan and Callum O’Dowda to push further forward.
Cyrus Christie and James McClean played as wing backs, with the latter skippering the side for the first time, and earning his 50th international cap in the process.
Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick started together up front in the absence of Shane Long and Jonathon Walters. The shift in formation was exploited ruthlessly by Mexico, who were by far the better team on the night.
Jesus Corona opened the scoring for the lively South American side in the 18th minute.
The Porto star danced past Daryl Horgan and Richard Keogh to score a brilliant opener, and Raul Jimenez made it two from the penalty spot after a clumsy tackle from James McClean on Carlos Vela.
Former Arsenal attacker Vela then added a third after 54 minutes from close range after some suspect Irish defending, and Stephen Gleeson’s 77th minute strike was merely a consolation.
The Birmingham midfielder was in the right place at the right time to calmly stroke the ball into the bottom corner from 12 yards after a botched clearance from MexicanÂ centre-half Oswaldo Alanis to seal his first international goal.
Callum O’Dowda had a chance to pull another goal back for Ireland late on after a good run, and David McGoldrick also had a half-chance in the dying minutes.
After the game, Martin O’Neill expressed his delight at the fixture, and described the game as “a great exercise”.
“First of all, I was delighted with the game,” the Irish bossÂ said afterwards.
“Secondly, quite a number of players have not played football for quite a considerable amount of time. In terms of our preparation for the main game against Austria, I thought it was excellent. Mexico were very good, they were good on the ball as befits a side like that.
“I thought it was a great work-out, a great exercise for us.”
O’Neill also discussed the decision to experiment with a new formation, and said that the 3-5-2 system could be useful in the future.
“We have to try it, that’s the whole point,” he continued.
“That’s what I said in the last two or three days: let’s have a look at it because we might have to do it at some point in our World Cup campaign, we might have to change systems.
“You can play a number of systems but you have to deal with situations.”
The boys in green will take on Uruguay on Sunday at the Aviva Stadium in their final friendly before the visit of Austria on June 11th.
Republic of Ireland:
Randolph; Christie (Browne 73), Keogh, Duffy, Egan (Long 64), McClean; Horgan (Gleeson 73), Hourihane (Oâ€™Kane 64), Oâ€™Dowda; Murphy (Hoolahan 64), McGoldrick.
Mexico:Â Cota; Salcedo (Layun h/t), Reyes, Moreno (Alanis h/t), Gallardo; Vela (Marquez 68), Herrera (Peralta h/t), Jorge Hernandez, J Dos Santos (Pineda 58), Corona (Aquino 58); Jimenez.