Under-17 European Championships: Ireland back in the mix
Side have chance to reach quarter-finals after beating Bosnia and Herzegovina
Blackpool’s Rowan Roache (right) got the opening goal for the Republic of Ireland against Bosnia and Herzegovina . Photograph: Rachel Holborn/Getty Images
Republic of Ireland 2 Bosnia-Herzegovina 1
The Republic of Ireland are back in the mix to reach the quarter-finals of the Under-17 European Championships after Adam Idah’s penalty saw off Bosnia and Herzegovina in Croatia on Sunday afternoon.
Serbia had inflicted opening-day disappointment on Colin O’Brien’s side by nicking a late win last Thursday but there was no late intervention this time as defensive solidity saw out a game they badly required three points from.
Goals from Rowan Roache and Idah in the first-half either side of an equaliser means Ireland can still secure a two-two finish and with it a place in the last eight.
They face table-toppers Germany, who beat Serbia 3-1 in the other group game played, and may have to topple the superpowers depending on the outcome of the Balkan derby being played simultaneously.
With Aaron Connolly and Lee O’Connor back able to start following recent injuries, Ireland were a threat from the off and took just seven minutes to go in front.
Kameron Ledwidge found Idah drifting in from the left and his lay-off for Roache on the edge of the box allowed his strike partner drive a crisp right-footed shot beyond Jasmin Krsic.
With Ireland well in control at that point, they were left reeling from the concession of an equaliser a mere six minutes later.
There were shades of Serbia’s winner on Thursday when Milan Savic’s lofted free-kick from the right wasn’t dealt with by the Irish defence, a sufficient lapse for the towering Nemanja Vjestica to ghost in and glance his header past Brian Maher in the Ireland goal.
Stung by that leveller, Ireland’s game-plan didn’t alter and their attacking intent increased.
Connolly’s persistence paid dividends as his surging gallop into the box was stopped only by a late challenge from Rijad Sadiku’s. Up stepped Idah to blast his spot-kick to the right bottom corner in spite of Krsic diving the right way.
“In fairness to our players, Bosnia were limited to very few chances in the second half,” noted O’Brien afterwards.
“There was no panic from our lads after conceding a disappointing equaliser and I thought we deserved the win. Adam then showed the ice in his veins to put away the penalty.
“Tournament football is a new experience of the lads and there’s an understandable degree of tension there going into the last 10 minutes when they’re hanging on and some have tired bodies. They saw it out and we move on to Germany now.”
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: B Maher (St Patrick’s Ath); L O’Connor (Manchester Utd), J Doherty (Sheffield Utd), N Collins (Stoke City), K Ledwidge (St Kevin’s Boys); L Nolan (St Patrick’s Ath), A Bolger (Shamrock Rovers), R O’Farrell (St Patrick’s Ath), A Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion); R Roache (Blackpool); A Idah (Corinthian Boys). Subs: C Thompson (Wolves) for O’Connor (65 mins), B Kavanagh (Bohemians) for Roache (71 mins).
BOSNIA-H: J Krsic; J Gazibegovic, R Sadiku, N Vjestica, D Tegeltija; E Sajdovic (M Brkic 71), S Santrac; M Savic, E Omerovic (D Marusic 53), A Imanovic; E Mehanovic (M Sikanjic 55).
Referee: F Verssimo (Portugal).