Reece Grego-Cox hat-trick maintains Ireland U21's unbeaten run in Euro qualifiers

Reece Grego-Cox hat-trick maintains Ireland U21's unbeaten run in Euro qualifiers

Republic of Ireland's U21s continued their unbeaten run in the European Championship qualifiers with an impressive 4-0 win over Israel today.

QPR striker Reece Grego-Cox scored a hat-trick and Everton midfielder Harry Charsley completed the scoring as Ireland stay top of Group Five.

Noel King went with an unchanged team, and it took just over 40 seconds for them to go ahead at Tallaght Stadium.

It was a goal made in Loftus Road as QPR duo forward Ryan Manning found a low cross to Reece Grego-Cox, and he tucked home from six yards out.

Derry City forward Ronan Curtis should have made it 2-0 eight minutes later when he bustled through two Israeli defenders on the edge of the area, but placed his effort wide of the left-hand post.

Israel were struggling to deal with the Irish front-three of Manning, Curtis and Grego-Cox, and the latter should have added to his tally in the 20th minute, but he couldn't direct Harry Charsley's low cross goalwards from eight yards out.

It was Charsley who eventually doubled Ireland's lead as the industrious Grego-Cox somehow dug out a cross from the left and after captain Josh Cullen touched the ball on, the Everton midfielder tucked home under the keeper after the half-hour.

Reece Grego-Cox hat-trick maintains Ireland U21's unbeaten run in Euro qualifiers

Three minutes later, Ireland went into a three-goal lead. Israel lost the ball in defence and after a brilliant through-ball to Curtis, the Derry City forward was fouled by the outstretched keeper, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot.

Grego-Cox took up the responsibility and put Ireland into a commanding lead at the break.

Any worries about a Israeli second-half comeback were quickly extinguished as Grego-Cox claimed his hat-trick. Manning's right-sided corner was only punched away as far as Curtis who saw his shot well saved but Grego-Cox tucked home the rebound in the 50th minute.

The victory means Noel King's side stay unbeaten and continue their run at the top of the group.

King said: "It was a great performance throughout. We kept our discipline throughout the game and to get the fourth goal in the second-half really clinched the game for us.

"We've been in all week and a lot of effort went into it, from the players and the staff as well, so it is a great reward for their hard work. We would have liked to have got two wins in the week but to stay unbeaten and to get 10 points out of 12 puts us in a great position."

Republic of Ireland: O'Hara (GK), Kane, Whelan, Donnellan, Sweeney, Cullen (C), Rice (Shaughnessy 77), Charsley (Quigley 80), Grego-Cox (Mulraney 69), Manning, Curtis.

Subs not used: Bossin (GK), Kinsella, Ronan, Delaney.

Israel: Glazer (GK), Meir, Ben David, Ghantus (Gamoun 11, (Nahmias 70)), Bitton, Plakushchenko, Peretz (C), Weissman, Solomon, Nassar, Barshazky.

Subs: Hasson (GK), Hozez, Cohen, Awwad, Avraham.

Referee: Fedayi San (SUI)


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