The Republic of Ireland secured their first win of the Under 19 Elite Phase qualifiers as Kevin Zefi’s second half penalty secured three valuable points against Estonia in Wexford on Saturday.
The Inter Milan forward struck in the 66th minute from the spot after former Cork City striker Mark O’Mahony was felled in the box.
The young boys in green now head into their final game against Greece on Tuesday night knowing nothing short of a victory will see them in with a chance of qualification.
It was a dominant performance from the Irish side and Tom Mohan’s men were fully worth the victory.
Zefi had the first shot on goal with a free kick but his effort was deflected wide just as it looked certain to find the net. Rocco Vata had another sight at goal for Ireland but after he broke down the left and cut inside, his strike from the edge of the area flew over the bar.
O’Mahony soon had a great opportunity to open the scoring as a cross from the left by Alex Murphy looked to be the perfect height for the onrushing striker but he couldn’t make the right connection.
Ed McJannet was to have the best chance of the first half when a cross was only parried by Nõmm towards the midfielder but his attempt was blocked down en-route to goal.
Ireland continued to pile on the pressure and following a goalmouth scramble it looked as if James Abankwah would pounce to score only for it to be cleared at the last second.
Zefi had the best of the opportunities in the second half as a cross from the right fell to the former Shamrock Rovers forward who struck it on the half-volley but it was cleared off the line by the Estonian defender.
McJannet then forced Nõmm into a save when his shot from the edge of the area was well taken by the Estonian netminder.
But the breakthrough eventually came six minutes after the hour mark when the referee awarded the home side a penalty.
Zefi stepped up and coolly slotted it past Nõmm to score what would prove to be the only goal of the game although Rocca Vata nearly added a second from a set piece but his low curling free was stopped by the keeper.
Ireland were reduced to ten men in the final moments of the game as James McManus received a second yellow card but they held on to secure a much needed win ahead of their final game against the Greeks.
Mason (GK), Murphy, Abankwah (C), Goulding, Grehan, McJannet, Vata (Ryan 89), Mc Manus, O'Mahony (Lonergan 67), Vaughan (Ferizaj 67), Zefi (Gallagher 89).
Nõmm (GK), Kane, Käit, Palutaja, Vaher, Luts (Kolobov 86), Vetkal (C), Õunapuu (Orlov 77), Smirnov (Lehtmets 68), Merilai, Mustmaa (Sillamaa 77).
Luca Cibell (Switzerland).