Ireland Under-21s beat Bosnia & Herzegovina at Zenica

Tyreik Wright and Conor Coventry score second half goals in Euro qualifiers

Ireland’s Tyreik Wright celebrates after scoring a penalty against Bosnia & Herzegovina. Photograph: Aleksandar Djorovic/Inpho

Ireland’s Tyreik Wright celebrates after scoring a penalty against Bosnia & Herzegovina. Photograph: Aleksandar Djorovic/Inpho

 

Bosnia & Herzegovina 0 Republic of Ireland 2

Tyreik Wright and Conor Coventry struck second half goals against Bosnia & Herzegovina at Zenica to give the Republic of the Ireland Under-21s a perfect start to their European Championship Group F qualifying campaign.

Scoreless at the end of a tentative opening period in the Bosnian association’s Football Training Centre, the game sparked into life when Wright converted a 52nd-minute penalty. Although a backlash was anticipated from the hosts, Coventry later fired home to seal all three points for Jim Crawford’s side.

Bosnia had begun the contest in lively fashion, with Ivan Bašic and Ðorde Milojevic both going close to rattling the opposition net. Despite coming under this initial pressure, Ireland soon grew into the game with midfielders Coventry and Gavin Kilkenny particularly prominent.

Clear-cut opportunities were few and far between, however, and the deadlock remained unbroken at the interval. There was surprise expressed in many quarters at the exclusion of Kilkenny from the senior squad during this international window, but this was the perfect audition for the Bournemouth man.

His free-kick just after the resumption was headed off-target by Jake O’Brien and following a Belmin Dizdarevic save from another Kilkenny set-piece moments later, Joshua Ogunfaolu-Kayode was upended in the box by Luka Malic.

Wright dispatched the resulting spot-kick to the bottom right-hand corner with considerable aplomb.

While Maher scrambled to turn away a Dedic free-kick on the hour mark, Ireland weren’t intent to sit back. Derby County’s Louie Watson was becoming more influential as the action progressed and he was the architect for the insurance score on 73 minutes.

Kilkenny played the ball short to the Croydon native from a corner on the right-flank and he proceeded to pick out skipper Coventry for a neat finish off the post that ultimately placed the outcome beyond doubt.

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA: Dizdarevic; Dedic, Milojevic, Barišic, Malic; M Savic (Drljo, 64 mins), Begic, I Savic (Ðokanovic, 64 mins), Kulašin (Tahric, 78 mins); Bašic, Mašic (Alic, 78 mins).

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Maher; Lyons, O’Brien, McEntee, Ferry (O’Connor, 83 mins); Kilkenny, Coventry (Johansson, 88 mins), Tierney; Watson (Noss, 80 mins), Ogunfaolu-Kayode (Ferguson, 83 mins), Wright.

Referee: K Hagenes (Norway).

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