UEFA U21 CHAMPIONSHIP
Ireland U21 5 Faroe Islands 2
Ireland U21 manager Noel King was prepared to gloss over some “porous” defending against the Faroe Islands yesterday as his side’s European Championship qualification campaign finally got motoring at the Showgrounds.
Aiden O’Brien bagged a brace during a frantic first half in which all seven goals were scored. The Faroes eroded the hosts’ three-goal lead with two strikes but order was restored before the break.
Though the victory, their first of the campaign at home, was essential for Ireland’s prospects of chasing second place and a play-off spot, another three points are a must from Tuesday’s trip to Montenegro.
That top seeds and runaway group leaders Germany needed a late equaliser to pinch a 1-1 draw in Podgorica last night underlines the task facing Ireland in three days’ time.
Bustling midfielder Samir Carruthers sped the Irish ahead on 17 minutes after he latched onto Callum Reilly’s slide-rule pass and three minutes later O’Brien displayed neat footwork to slip by two defenders before angling a low shot in off the far post. The one-way traffic yielded a third for Ireland when Jack Grealish marked his first start with a 25th-minute header from Anthony O’Connor’s right-wing cross.
Gunner Zachariasen launched the comeback within a minute by firing a shot in off the post before the captain made it 3-2 from the spot following a foul by Shane Duffy.
However, Anthony Forde then curled an effort home from the edge of the box before O’Brien tapped in Duffy’s 42nd–minute knockdown for number five.
“The Faroes had scored against every team in the group but we might have won the game by six or seven,” said King. “Yes, the lads needed to be less porous in the second half but there were some excellent individual displays from our lads.”
IRELAND: S McDermott (Sandnes Ulf); A O’Connor (Torquay United), M S Duffy (Yeovil Town), D Williams (Bristol City), S McGinty (Sheffield Utd); C Reilly (Birmingham City), S Carruthers (MK Dons); A Forde (Wolves), S Murray (Watford), J Grealish (Notts County); A O’Brien (Millwall).
Subs: C Dunne (Wycombe Wanderers) for Williams (63), J O’Sullivan for Murray (74), W Hayhurst (Preston NE) for O’Brien (85)
FAROE ISLANDS: T Gestsson; B Hansen, R Nattestad, P Hansen, Rene Joensen; A Fredriksberg (A Ellingsgaard 56), T Jensen (B Petersen 46), B Olsen, H Hansen, Gilli Sørensen; G Zachariasen (S Kalso 84).
Referee: A Aliyev (Kaz).
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