Ireland Under-17s fall to opening defeat in European Championships
Ireland Under-17s 0 Belgium Under-17s 2
Ireland have fallen to defeat in their opening Under-17 European finals game this evening as Belgium scored a goal in each half to claim victory.
Defeat means Colin O'Brien's side will almost certainly need a result in Tuesday's next match against Denmark, who lost 3-2 against Bosnia-Herzegovina in today's other game in Group C.
After starting brightly, with Tottenham Hotspur striker Troy Parrott causing some problems, Ireland began to get dominated in midfield and went behind six minutes before the break.
Sekou Sidibe was on hand to finish from close range after a cracking shot from the left by captain Nicolas Raskin rebounded off the underside of the crossbar.
O'Brien's side eventually stretched the Belgian defence around the hour mark. After top scorer Adam Idah saw his shot saved by Nick Shinton, captain Nathan Collins nodded a free header wide with the goal at his mercy.
It proved the turning point as from their next attack the Belgians put the game to bed. Ireland goalkeeper Jimmy Corcoran did well to keep Halim Timassi's shot out but Yorbe Vertessen followed in to smash the rebound home.
IRELAND: J Corcoran (Cherry Orchard); M Murphy (Stoke City), O McEntee (Newcastle Utd), N Collins (Stoke City), K Ledwidge (Southampton); J Knight (Derby County), B Coffey (Celtic); S Brennan (Southampton), T Parrott (Tottenham Hotspur), T Wright (Aston Villa); A Idah (Norwich City).
Sub: Callum Thompson (Wolves) for Brennan (60 mins).