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Brady rounds off comeback to send Ireland into elite phase

PAUL Doolin's Republic of Ireland reversed a half-time deficit on Saturday to defeat Bulgaria and confirm their qualification from the UEFA first phase into next year's elite section.

Bulgaria needed a win to compensate for their opening-day loss to Serbia and pressurised Ireland in the opening half, finally grabbing a goal on 40 minutes.

Shane Duffy's clearance from Georgi Milanov's corner was sent back into the box and Georgi Amzin was well placed to divert the ball beyond goalkeeper Aaron McCarey.

But three minutes after the restart, Daryl Horgan and Robbie Brady were involved in an attacking move, the ball was worked to Sean McGinty, and the Manchester United defender was coolness personified in slipping past a defender and tucking a low shot into the bottom corner.

Then, on the 77-minute mark, a superb move yielded a dramatic winner.

Jeff Hendrick laid the ball into Brady's path and he swept past his marker and drilled a crisp shot into the net for 2-1.

Ireland remain top of the group on six points, ahead of Serbia on goals scored. The two qualified nations meet in tomorrow's concluding fixture with Doolin's side requiring a point to win the group.

Republic of Ireland -- McCarey (Wolves); Walker (Wrexham), McGinty (Man United), Duffy (Everton), Egan (Sunderland); Rodgers (Chelsea), Hendrick (Derby County), McDonnell (Dundalk); Horgan (Salthill Devon), Shaw (Bray Wanderers), Brady (Man United). Subs: Walsh (Longford Town) for Rodgers (h-t), McHugh (Reading) for McDonnell (61), Rafter (unattached) for Shaw (80).

Irish Independent