Friday 24 November 2017

Doolin hails 'brilliant' display despite Switzerland fightback

IRELAND U-19 2, SWITZERLAND U-19 2

Paul Doolin
Paul Doolin

Gareth Maher in Belgrade

THE Ireland U-19s surrendered a two-goal advantage in their first of three Elite Phase qualifiers, but they are still in the mix to reach the European finals.

Paul Doolin remained upbeat after the game despite seeing his side tire in the second half and fail to claim three points.

Sam Byrne got things started with a thumping header on 15 minutes before Kieran Sadlier curled in a superb free-kick, but goals from Michael Frey and Samuele Campo saw Switzerland snatch a draw.

With Serbia beating Slovakia 4-0 in the other Group B game, Doolin's team know that they must beat Slovakia tomorrow to have any chance of reaching the finals in Lithuania. They play hosts Serbia in Tuesday's final game.

"I thought it was a brilliant performance from the lads. We were outstanding in the first half and got two outstanding goals, but maybe a draw was a fair result," said Doolin.

"At this stage of the qualifiers last year, we were out of the running after losing to Portugal, so we still have a chance and all we wanted going into these qualifiers was to be in it until the last game."

While they did struggle with the humidity in the second half and didn't have the same cutting edge that they found early on, it was still a good performance from the Boys in Green.

By starting on the front foot, Ireland created a lot of chances, with Noe Baba having a shot charged down before Steven Smith volleyed the rebound straight at Swiss 'keeper Yvon Mvogo.

However, Manchester United youngster Byrne was more clinical when he got up ahead of his marker to meet Will Hayhurst's cross with a stunning header that hit the crossbar on its way in.

On 23 minutes, they went 2-0 up when West Ham starlet Sadlier expertly curled in a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area.

Switzerland hit back, though, with Frey heading in just before the break and they got a second goal when Campo broke free on a counter-attack to slot the ball past 'keeper Ian Lawlor.

IRELAND – Lawlor; Baba, Sweeney, Smith, Griffin; Gallagher, Miele; Hayhurst (McEvoy 70), Sadlier (Tiofack 88), Garmston; Byrne.

SWITZERLAND – Mvogo; Luchinger, Matri (Wuthrich 60), Gulen, Untersee; Corbaz, Alesevic, Tabakovic (Nsiala 70); Campo, Frey, Khelifi (Selmani 85).

Ref – S Lapochkin (Rus).

Irish Independent

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