Friday 21 October 2016

U21s fight to death but it's not enough

Serbia U21 3 Rep of Ireland U21 2

Callum O'Dowda
Callum O'Dowda

A late fightback was not enough for the Republic of Ireland's Under-21s as they lost 3-2 to Serbia in their penultimate European Championship qualifier in Novi Sad.

With Ireland needing to win to maintain slim hopes of qualifying for the finals, Noel King had told his side to go out and prove themselves against a team largely composed of players who won the World Under-20s title last year.

But they fell behind after only 12 minutes when Uros Djurdjevic scored with a shot on the turn from close range.

Ireland had started well and continued to perform creditably, creating several chances, but Serbia grabbed the second goal when Darko Lazic headed home in the 65th minute.

Callum O'Dowda quickly hit back for the visitors, heading in Kevin O'Connor's cross, but hopes of a comeback were quickly snuffed out when Irish goalkeeper Daniel Rogers was punished for a foul on Drurdjevic, who converted the penalty.

There was still time for Sean Maguire to score a consolation for the visitors, but the match ended in their fifth defeat of the qualifying campaign.

Tom Mohan's U19 team added to their 1-0 freindly win over Austria on Sunday evening with a convincing 3-1 victory over the same opposition at Tallaght Stadium.

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