Dixon's vital late leveller
Ireland U17 1 Israel U17 1 Gerry McDermott AN injury-time goal from super-sub Terry Dixon prevented Ireland from crashing out of the UEFA U17 Championships at Richmond Park last night.
Israel, who beat Serbia & Montenegro on Monday, were on course to qualify with a game to spare thanks to Omar Damari's winner ten minutes from time.
But it would have been rough justice on Sean McCaffrey's side who dominated the game and carved out the best opportunities before they finally got their reward in the first of four minutes of injury-time.
A corner from Graham Carey was headed on by Spillane and in a crowded six-yard box Spurs striker Dixon was on hand to turn and blast the ball home from two yards.
It had looked that Ireland would literally pay the penalty for Christy Fagan's missed spot-kick four minutes after half-time.
The Manchester United striker blasted the ball high over the crossbar from the spot after Israeli goalkeeper Daniel Machluf, in a moment of madness, had upended Michael Spillane.
Although the Israelis always looked dangerous going forward, it was the Irish who dominated the game and carved out the best chances.
In the first half Sheridan saw a header cleared off the line, while Christy Fagan had the ball taken off his toe as he prepared to volley it into an empty net.
The Israeli goal came on 70 minutes when Ireland lost possession in the opposition half and a quick counter-attack ended with a low cross from substitute Victor Mare being stabbed home by midfielder Omar Damari.
If Israel beat Romania in the final series of games tomorrow night Ireland must beat Serbia & Montenegro and hope that their current goal difference of plus three will guarantee them a place at the U17 finals for the first time since 200.
In the other group game played yesterday Serbia beat Romania 1-0.
Among the 2,120 crowd at Richmond Park last night were Ireland manager Stephen Staunton and his his predecessor Brian Kerr.
IRELAND - Redmond (N Forest); Treacy (Cherry Orchard, Lyons C Palace 76), Donoghue (Sunderland), Breen (Man City), Fitzgerald (West Ham); Cahillane (Celtic), Spillane (Norwich), Arter (Charlton), Carey (Celtic); Sheridan (Belvedere, Dixon (Spurs) 57), Fagan (Man Utd).
ISRAEL - Machluf; Amitay, Malul, Kapiloto, Shish; Jabarin (Elmaleach 69), Arael, Damari (Huta 78), Saloniki, Hijazi (Mare 45); Sahar.
REF - V Aliyev (Azerbaijan).