Ireland Under-21s pegged back at the death by Luxembourg

Colm Whelan gives Jim Crawford’s side the lead but a late penalty earns hosts a points

Lee O’Connor is closed down by Luxembourg goalscorer Dylan Kuete. Photograph: Stéphane Guillaume/Inpho

Lee O’Connor is closed down by Luxembourg goalscorer Dylan Kuete. Photograph: Stéphane Guillaume/Inpho

 

Luxembourg 1 Republic of Ireland 1

Dylan Kuete converted an 84th-minute penalty at Stade Jos Nosbaum in Dudelange to deny the Republic of Ireland Uunder-21s a second-consecutive victory in Group F of the European Championship qualifiers.

Having kick-started their campaign with a 2-0 away win over Bosnia & Herzegovina last Friday, Jim Crawford’s charges looked set to preserve their 100 per cent record when Colm Whelan rattled the Luxembourg net on the stroke of 70 minutes. Yet, there was enough time for Kuete to produce late drama and thus ensure the sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.

Ireland’s starting line-up showed four changes from the Bosnia game, with Lee O’Connor, Joel Bagan, Dawson Devoy and Evan Ferguson all earning promotions off the bench.

Remarkably, Meath native Ferguson is still only 16-years-old, but has already featured at first-team level for his club Brighton & Hove Albion.

In Zenica four days earlier, it was a second-half penalty courtesy of Tyreik Wright that got the ball rolling for Ireland.

Following a couple of early efforts, the visitors were presented with a similar opportunity after Will Ferry was upended in the box by Emre Erkus. On this occasion, however, Wright saw his spot-kick turned away by opposition netminder Lucas Fox.

This came as a massive relief for Luxembourg, who had scored one goal and conceded 11 in the three games they had played in the group prior to this contest. While Ireland had six shots overall in the opening period, it was ultimately a stalemate at the interval.

He had a relatively quiet day up to that point, but Bray Wanderers goalkeeper Brian Maher was forced to make a save from Mathias Olesen four minutes after the restart. Ferry and Lee O’Connor had subsequent efforts blocked by the Luxembourg defence as a breakthrough goal continued to evade Ireland moving into the final half-hour.

Crawford called upon substitutes Andrew Moran and Whelan in the 67th-minute, with the introduction of the latter proving to be a shrewd move on his part.

Capitalising on approach work by Devoy, debutant Whelan found the bottom corner of the net moments after his introduction. This had Ireland dreaming of another triumph on the road, until Oisin McEntee was adjudged to have fouled Alessio Curci in the closing minutes.

Substitute Kuete made no mistake from 12 yards and while Ireland pushed for a late winner, it didn’t materialise.

Luxembourg: Fox; Schmit (Sacras, 77 mins), Olesen, D’Anzico; Erkus (Torres, 77 mins), Osmanovic, Medina (Turping, 77 mins), Latic, Ikene; Bernard (Kuete 54, mins), Curci (De Oliviera, 85 mins).

Republic of Ireland: Maher; O’Connor, McEntee, O’Brien, Bagan; Kilkenny, Coventry (Johansson, 81 mins); Wright, Devoy (Noss, 81 mins), Ferry (Moran, 67 mins); Ferguson (Whelan 67, mins).

Referee: L Sotiriou (Cyprus).

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