Czechs prove too strong at home


A sublime goal 12 minutes from time relieved Czech frustration and left Brian Kerr's Irish youths looking for favours if they are to qualify for the intermediate stage of the 2001 UEFA Under-18 championships. Qualification for next summer's finals in Finland is almost beyond reach now for Ireland unless the hosts throw it away by losing at least one of their remaining games against Bulgaria or Moldova, who drew 1-1 in yesterday's other Group Eight qualifier.

In truth, however, Kerr's latest batch of hopefuls could harbour few complaints at the finish.

They did frustrate the technically-better Czechs in the first half, but the Czechs owned the second-half as Ireland simply gave away too much possession; their passing let them down badly much of the time.

But the hosts looked like they would fail to take advantage as they rarely got a clear chance to trouble goalkeeper Barry Roche. Until, that is, their winner arrived 12 minutes from time.

And an excellent goal it was, following a flowing, three-man move. Martin Hudec's ball out to the right stretched the defence. David Helisek picked out David Bystron, on the pitch just a minute as a substitute, and he hooked the ball home from the edge of the area. Ireland meet Moldova tomorrow before facing Bulgaria on Thursday.

Czech Republic: Cech; Simecek, Besta, Koubsky, Coupek; Lastovka, M Hudec, Kalivoda, Trojan; Jun, Vyskocic. Subs: Helisek for Kalivoda (64 mins), Bystron for Lastovka (77 mins.).

Republic Of Ireland: Roche (Nottingham Forst); Brennan (Newcastle United), Byrne (Sunderland), Tierney (Manchester United), Murphy (QPR); Cawley (Leeds United), van Zanten (Celtic), Gamble (Reading); Cash (Nottingham Forest), Doyle (Blackburn Rovers), Reid (Nottingham Forest). Subs: McNamara (Nottingham Forest) for Doyle (64 mins), Thornton (Tranmere Rovers) for Cawley (77 mins). Referee: D Ceferin (Slovenia).