Sunday 17 November 2019

Manning on the double as U-21s do business

Azerbaijan 1 Ireland 3

Republic of Ireland U21 goalscorer Ryan Manning. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland U21 goalscorer Ryan Manning. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile Sportsdesk

QPR duo Ryan Manning and Reece Grego-Cox shared the goals as Ireland defeated Azerbaijan to make it two wins in two games in their U-21 Euro qualifiers.

Galway native Manning notched a first-half brace sandwiched in between by Azerbaijan's equaliser.

Manning's QPR team-mate Reece Grego-Cox added a third shortly after the interval before the hosts had Elnur Jafarov sent off for with a half hour left.

A professional performance, backboned by West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice, followed up their victory over Kosovo last March and sets up Noel King's charges nicely for the visit of Norway to Tallaght Stadium on October 5.

The tougher tests in the group are expected to come from Israel and holders Germany. "This was a difficult match, particularly with having to travel 5,000km to get here and then acclimatise," said King.

"The players were very professional in how they managed the game. They kept possession for long spells. The two QPR boys did very well. Their work-rate was excellent."

Ireland got off to a flyer as, after nine minutes, Manning latched on to a Ronan Curtis pass and rifled in a shot which the goalkeeper got a hand on but couldn't prevent crossing the line.

The home team equalised three minutes later with a superb individual goal. Mahir Madatov, capped at senior level, showed his class by dribbling from his own half past a couple of defenders before tucking the ball beneath Kieran O'Hara.

Manning regained the lead for Ireland six minutes before the break, arriving with perfect timing to nod in a pinpoint cross from Greco-Cox.

Instead of getting to push for another leveller, the home side were left reeling by the concession of a third goal on 50 minutes as another handling error by the goalkeeper allowed Grego-Cox nip in to score.

Manning and Josh Cullen missed late chances to secure a more convincing victory for the Irish.

Irish Independent

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