Madeira Under-21 2 Republic of Ireland Under-21 2
The Republic of Ireland’s under-21 side had to come from behind twice to avoid a surprise defeat by Madeira in Choupana tonight.
Two goals by Millwall striker Ross Gaynor helped the Republic carve out a 2-2 draw to continue their unbeaten run in the Madeira Invitational Tournament.
Ireland have never been beaten in this event in three years of travelling to the Portuguese island but they came very close to losing that record in this game.
A victory over Portugal in Machico on Friday afternoon will be good enough to secure the trophy once more for the Republic.
Ireland won the competition in both 2004 and 2006 and started this year’s event with a 1-0 win over Slovakia yesterday.
Gaynor was always a danger on his Under-21 debut and he fired narrowly wide with a low strike from 20 yards out in the 10th minute.
Madeira took the lead five minutes later through Jose Costa.
Ireland's keeper Rene Gilmartin was caught off his line after intercepting a through-ball but Costa still need to show composure with a neat finish into an empty net from 30 yards.
Ireland drew level terms just four minutes later when Celtic winger Jim O’Brien supplied Gaynor from the left and the Millwall striker fired home via a deflection off Carlos Moniz.
Ireland had a penalty call rejected in the 29th minute after defender Dinarte Gouveia seemed to handle a Gaynor cross.
Madeira went in front once more in the 44th minute after Moniz found the head of Ricardo Sousa from a left-wing free-kick.
Chelsea’s James Simmonds was denied by goalkeeper Jose Silva in the 51st minute but it was not until the 75th minute that Ireland next threatened, Ronan Finn shooting across goal.
Just as it seemed Madeira would hold on for an unlikely victory Gaynor arrived to drive the ball into the top corner after good approach play by Michael Synnott.