Thursday 27 April 2017

Debutant George grabs late leveller

Ireland U-17 2
Denmark U-17 2

Celtic winger Paul George, who recently switched from Northern Ireland, made it a debut to remember by coming off the bench to fire home a stoppage-time equaliser in Ireland's opening game of the U-17 European Championship elite qualifying competition in Greece yesterday.

Arsenal striker Philip Roberts had given Ireland a great start on 29 minutes when he connected with a cross from his Gunners team-mate Steven Smith for the opener.

A dubious penalty decision on the stroke of half-time for a foul by defender Tommie Hoban allowed the Danes to level through Viktor Fisher, and their star striker Kenneth Zohore, who already has Champions League experience for FC Copenhagen, gave them a 2-1 lead four minutes from time.

Ireland's late quest to salvage a draw got its just reward when George guided a Philip Roberts cross over the goal-line, despite 'keeper Oliver Korch getting a hand to his effort.

Up next for Ireland in the four-nation mini-group tomorrow morning (10.0) are hosts Greece, who beat Latvia 2-0 in yesterday's other pool game.

"Greece top the table now and it's our aim to take their position by beating them," said Ireland manager John Morling.

"I reckon it will take seven points to win this group, so two wins are now needed for us to qualify.

"The players showed real desire to equalise at the end against a Denmark side as good as the Italy or Portugal teams we've played in the past year."

Ireland --J Coll (Man Utd); C Horgan (Salthill Devon), T Hoban (Watford), S Smith (Arsenal), S Kavanagh (Belvedere); K McEvoy (Tottenham), L Gallagher (Cherry Orchard), K Dillon (Derby County), D Lenihan (Belvedere); P Roberts (Arsenal), S Byrne (St Joseph's Boys). Sub: P George (Celtic) for McEvoy (65).

Irish Independent

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