Ire U-17s back in Euro hunt after strong first half against Bosnia
Ireland U17 2 Bosnia Herzegovina U17 1
ADAM IDAH’S penalty winner against Bosnia-Herzegovina has revived Ireland’s ambitions of reaching the knockout stages of the Under-17 European Championships.
Defeat to Serbia in Thursday’s opener left Colin O’Brien’s side needing victory in Kostrena and they duly delivered thanks to first-half goals by Rowan Roache and Cork native Idah.
Bosnia had cancelled out Roache’s opener before Idah smashed home a penalty on 29 minutes which proved to be the winner.
With Germany beating Serbia 3-1 in the other Group C game played today, it means Ireland will seal a place in the quarter-finals if they better Serbia’s result in Wednesday’s concluding pair of matches.
It seems likely the Boys in Green will need to at least get a point off Germany, as Serbia face a Bosnian outfit already beaten in both of their fixtures. One of both of the qualifiers from the pool could, however, be decided by goal difference depending on the outcome of the two fixtures.
Aaron Connolly and Lee O’Connor were deemed fit enough to start for O’Brien’s two changes from the first game and the Brighton attacker was to the fore as Ireland went on the attack from the outset.
They took just seven minutes to underline their superiority. Kameron Ledwidge and Idah combined on the left to create space and the striker fed Roache on the edge of the box who drove his low right-foot shot beyond Jasmin Krsic.
With Ireland seemingly in control, they were left stunned by conceding the equaliser within six minutes. When Milan Savic lofted a free-kick high into the penalty area, Nemanja Vjestica was left unmarked to glance his header past Brian Maher in the Ireland goal.
Back came Ireland and Connolly’s endeavours paid off as his marauding run was halted in the box by Rijad Sadiku’s rash tackle. Up stepped Idah to blast his spot-kick to the right despite Krsic guessing the right way.
Ireland spent most of the second half in defensive mode, dropping deep to consolidate as Bosnia sought an equaliser. On the few occasions, their probing unhinged the Irish, poor finishing cost them. In the final minute, Ireland were given a let-off when Savic was first to react when the ball came across the face of goal but not in enough time to get his toe to the ball.
IRELAND: B Maher (St Patrick’s Ath); L O’Connor (Manchester Utd), J Doherty (Sheffield Utd), N Collins (Stoke City), K Ledwidge (St Kevin’s Boys); L Nolan (St Patrick’s Ath), A Bolger (Shamrock Rovers), R O’Farrell (St Patrick’s Ath), A Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion); R Roache (Blackpool); A Idah (Corinthian Boys).
Subs: C Thompson (Wolves) for O’Connor (65 mins), B Kavanagh (Bohemians) for Roache (71 mins).
BOSNIA-H: J Krsic; J Gazibegovic, R Sadiku, N Vjestica, D Tegeltija; E Sajdovic (M Brkic 71), S Santrac; M Savic, E Omerovic (D Marusic 53), A Imanovic; E Mehanovic (M Sikanjic 55).
Referee: F Verssimo (POR)