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Dublin: 12°C Monday 14 June 2021
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Euros heartbreak for Ireland U21s in Tallaght

A late goal saw Jim Crawford’s side lose to group rivals Iceland.

Ireland’s Conor Masterson and Liam Scales dejected after the match.
Ireland’s Conor Masterson and Liam Scales dejected after the match.
Image: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

Republic of Ireland 1

Iceland 2

Darryl Geraghty reports from Tallaght Stadium

IRELAND U21S WERE beaten in heartbreaking circumstances, as their young guns fell to a late winner against a strong Icelandic side.

An own goal sandwiched between a fine Sveinn Aron Guðjohnsen finish and a late  Valdimar Þór Ingimundarson winner saw the hosts’ chances of qualifying all but vanish at a freezing Tallaght Stadium.

The Irish team’s misery was compounded when Nathan Collins received his marching orders for an off-the-ball incident late on.

In an eventful start, the hosts could have easily found themselves one down, when stopper Ed McGinty, making his debut at this level and in for the injured Gavin Bazunu, slipped on the slick surface as the ball fizzed towards him. Luckily for the Sligo Rovers man, he managed to get to his feet and just managed to recover the ball in a foot race against Guðjohnsen.

Jim Crawford’s troops, who were looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2-0 defeat away to group leaders Italy, went straight down the other end and had the ball in the back of the net through debutant Anthony Scully, following some good work by Michael Obafemi, but the offside flag was raised correctly.

The Irish side were looking to avenge a controversial 1-0 defeat in the reverse fixture 13 months ago. On that occasion, then-skipper Lee O’Connor saw red and the Boys in Green fell foul to a questionable penalty in Reykjavik, and dominated possession from deep, patiently waiting for their time to strike. They did just that minutes later when Southampton’s Obafemi broke the offside trap, but his touch was just too heavy as he raced towards goal.

Midway through the first half, the visitors, who were narrowly defeated by Italy 2-1 in their last outing, showed just how clinical they could be. Their attack carved through the Irish backline, and Gudjohnsen — son of former Barcelona and Chelsea star Eidur, who is the current assistant manager of Iceland U21s — delicately chipped the onrushing McGinty.

The pattern continued as the half wore on and just before the break, Ireland had two glorious chances in quick succession. Firstly, O’Connor whipped in a wicked cross from the right that Jack Taylor was inches away from powering home. Then, Obafemi burst into the box from the left side, and set up Zack Elbouzedi on the edge of the area, but the Lincoln player could only shoot straight at Patrik Gunnarsson.

Troy Parrott, a half-time introduction for Scully, immediately showed his attacking intent from the left side, drifting in and hammering a shot just over the bar.

As the home side pushed for an equaliser, Daniel Mandroiu and Joshua Kayode were also introduced, and these changes paid dividends almost immediately.

Another bout of pressure from the home side gave O’Connor a yard of space on the right wing, and the Tranmere star, on loan from Celtic, whipped in yet another devilish cross, and this time it was turned into his own net by Ari Leifsson. Game on.

With just five minutes remaining, Mandroiu picked up a loose ball and found himself in a glorious four-v-three situation, but the Bohs star showed some rustiness, having not featured much for The Gypsies of late, and overhit a through ball for clubmate Danny Grant.

This attack was followed by Collins receiving a straight red card following a scuffle between a whole host of players, after Kayode put in a strong, albeit fair, challenge on the right wing that saw furious reactions from the visitors.

The Icelandic side made their man advantage pay in extra time, breaking Irish hearts, after Parrott lost control of the ball on the left side. The visitors quickly broke into the box and a clever cut back found its way to Ingimundarson, who slotted home with his left foot.

So near, yet so far for the Irish young guns, who showed a lot of guts but unfortunately fell at the last hurdle.

Republic of Ireland U21: Ed McGinty, Lee O’Connor, Nathan Collins, Conor Masterson, Liam Scales, Jack Taylor, Connor Ronan (Daniel Mandroiu, 74’),
Conor Coventry (Thomas O’Connor, 83’), Anthony Scully (Troy Parrott, 45’), Michael Obafemi (Joshua Ogunfaolu-Kayode, 74), Zack Elbouzedi (Danny Grant, 83’)

Subs: Brian Maher, Darragh Leahy, Mark McGuinness, Troy Parrott, Danny Grant, Joshua Ogunfaolu-Kayode, Daniel Mandroiu, Thomas O’Connor, Danny
McNamara

Iceland U21: Patric Gunnarsson, Alfons Sampsted, Robert Orri Thorkelsson, Alex Hauksson, Andri Fannar Baldursson (Isak Bergmann Johannesson, 60’),
Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson, Horour Ingi Gunnarsson, Svein Aron Gudjohnsen (Brynjolfur Andersen Willumsson, 72), William Thor Willumsson (Thor Johann
Helgason, 60’ (Kolbeinn Thordarson 89’), Kolbeinn Finnsson (Valdimar Thor Ingimundarson, 72’), Ari Leifsson

Subs: Elia Rafn Olafsson, Valgeir Lunddal Fridriksson, Iask Olafsson, Isak Bergmann Johannesson, Brynjolfur Andersen Willumsson, Valdimar Thor Ingimundarson, Bjarki Steinn Bjarkason, Thor Johann Helgason, Kolbeinn Thordarson

Referee: Juan Martinez Munuera (ESP)

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