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Dublin: 1°C Friday 5 March 2021

Controversial last-gasp goal leaves Ireland frustrated in Euros opener

Matt Everitt’s close-range strike initially appeared to have won it for Colin O’Brien’s side.

Matthew Everitt dejected Ireland goalscorer Matt Everitt shows his disappointment at full-time. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ireland 1

Greece 1

Paul Fennessy reports from Tallaght Stadium

A GREECE GOAL with virtually the last kick of the game from Dimitris Arsenidis left Ireland U17s frustrated amid a 1-1 draw in their Euro 2019 opener.

A close-range finish from Brighton youngster Matt Everitt appeared to have won it in front of 4,265 fans at Tallaght Stadium, before the Greeks hit back deep into stoppage time.

Colin O’Brien’s side dominated the majority of the contest, but struggled to open up their opponents for large parts of their opening Group A encounter.

Ireland qualified for the tournament automatically as hosts but went into the game with room for improvement, having suffered four losses in their last seven friendly games.

Greece, meanwhile, finished second in both qualifying rounds in this tournament, behind Belgium and Spain respectively.

After the other two sides, Belgium and Czech Republic, played out a 1-1 draw in Tolka Park earlier, the teams went into this match knowing a win would leave them top of Group A.

Ireland began the game with a 4-2-3-1 formation. Captain Seamas Keogh and Joe Hodge anchored the midfield, with Matt Everitt, Charlie McCann and Festy Ebosele ahead of them, while former Wicklow GAA underage player Conor Carty was the lone frontman. 

Matthew Everitt scores the first goal Matt Everitt gives Ireland the lead. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ireland started the game with the greater possession and territory, with the first half-chance coming to the hosts. Everitt’s cross was only half cleared, with McCann firing a few inches over from the edge of the area.

Greece looked nervy and hesitant early on, with a miskick from goalkeeper Kostas Tzolakis epitomising their uncertain start.

That mishap ultimately led to a free kick on the edge of the area, following a mistimed challenge on Ebosele, with Everitt firing the ensuing effort just wide.

Shortly thereafter, Ebosele, who was seeing plenty of the ball down the left, crossed for Carty, though a well-timed challenge from Thomas Karamperis prevented the Ireland youngster getting a shot on target.

Moments later, Hodge played through Carty, but the Wolves man’s effort took a slight deflection off the defender and was diverted just wide.

Ireland continued to probe, and the lively Ebosele was tripped just outside the area by Karamperis amid another encouraging attack. The Irish winger’s subsequent free-kick found Timi Sobowale, though the defender failed to divert the ball on target.

Greece manager Nikolaos Kechagias’ frustration was audible as he shouted instructions with greater levels of animation from the sideline.

The home side were increasingly dominant and Joe Hodge in particular looking bright, demonstrating an impressive range of passing. The Manchester City youngster went close shortly after the half-hour mark, as his audacious attempt from about 30 yards out went just wide.

Hodge was then required down the other end as half-time approached, heading Vasilis Grosdis’ free-kick behind for a corner, with the visitors finishing the first 45 minutes strongly, having struggled to impose themselves on the game’s early stages

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Ireland U17 team The Ireland team pictured before the game. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The second half began in a similar fashion to much of the first, with Ireland enjoying the better possession and territory, but lacking the necessary cutting edge in attack.

In the 58th minute, however, the deadlock was finally broken. James Furlong’s corner found Andrew Omobamidele, whose header across goal was glanced on by Carty. Everitt was then perfectly placed to bundle the ball home, giving the hosts a deserved lead.

Greece attempted to turn the game around, with Christos Liatsos and Nektarios Kotopoulos introduced shortly after the goal, as the visitors adopted a more attacking approach.

Chances remained few and far between as the game neared its climax, with Man City stopper Gavin Bazunu a relative bystander for much of the 90 minutes.

The Boys in Green had a chance to double their advantage late on, as Everitt broke with menace following a Greece corner, but overhit a final ball for the onrushing Carty.

The away side were carrying more threat at this stage. Tzolis tested Bazunu with a shot from a tight angle, after being played through by Grosdis.

O’Brien’s side looked set to see the game out, but in the dying seconds of five minutes of stoppage time, a free-kick led to a scramble in the box. The ball fell to substitute Arsenidis, who slotted home coolly to earn his side a point.

The Irish players angrily surrounded the referee, protesting that the player was offside, though the final touch, before the goal was scored, appeared to come off Irish defender Seán McEvoy. Ostensible initial uncertainty from the linesman over whether to give the goal exacerbated the hosts’ frustration.

Ireland next play Czech Republic at Waterford’s RSC on Monday, with each side in the group currently level on a point each.

Ireland: 1. Gavin Bazunu 2. Seán McEvoy 3. James Furlong 4. Oluwatimilehin Sobowale (McNulty 66) 5. Andrew Omobamidele 6. Joe Hodge 7. Matt Everitt (Kennedy 90) 8. Seamas Keogh 9. Conor Carty 10. Charlie McCann (McKinley 79) 11. Festy Ebsoele 

Subs: 23. Harry Halwax 12. Brandon Holt 14. Anselmo Garcia MacNulty 15. Luke Turner 17. Sean Kennedy 18. Ronan McKinley 19. Roland Idowu 20. Joshua Giurgi 

Greece: 1. Kostas Tzolakis 2. Angelos Tsavos 5. Panagiotis Panagiotou 6. Antonis Siatounis (Liatsos 66) 8. Thomas Karamperis 9. Christos Tzolis 10. Vasilis Sourlis (Belevonis 85) 11. Giannis Karakoutis (Kotopoulos 73) 14. Aventis Aventisian 16. Vasilis Pavlidis 17. Vasilis Grosdis  (Arsenidis 85)

Subs: 12. Konstantinos Balomenos 3. Kostas Lazaridis 4. Kyriakos Aslanidis 7. Nektarios Kotopoulos 15. Pavlos Grosdanis 18. Christos Belevonis 20. Giorgos Manisoglou 21. Christos Liatsos 22. Dimitris Arsenidis

Referee: Jorgen Burchardt (Denmark)

Attendance: 4,265

Gavan Casey and Murray Kinsella are joined by Andy Dunne to discuss all the week’s rugby news.:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Paul Fennessy

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