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Brilliant Ferizaj free-kick helps Ireland secure top spot in Euro qualifier group

Ireland came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Poland at Turner’s Cross.

Justin Ferizaj was on target from 25 yards out.
Justin Ferizaj was on target from 25 yards out.
Image: Ken Sutton/INPHO

THE REPUBLIC OF Ireland U17s came from two goals down to secure a draw against Poland at Turner’s Cross on Wednesday, a result which sees them top their European Championship 2022 qualifier group. 

A first-half brace from Oliwier Slawinski had put Poland in control, but Ireland fought back with goals from Mark O’Mahony and Justin Ferizaj to beat their opponents to top spot in the group ahead of next year’s Elite Round of qualifiers.

Ireland started well but fell behind when Slawinski scored from the penalty spot after being brought down in the box by Cathal Heffernan.

Slawinski then added a second in the 20th minute with a close-range finish.

Ireland pulled a goal back shortly before the half-hour mark, O’Mahony winning possession on the edge of the box after putting good pressure on the Poland goalkeeper before netting his third goal in as many games.

The hosts came close to finding an qualifier before half-time, and the goal finally came in the second half courtesy of Justin Ferizaj.

Having come on as a substitute, Ferizaj scored a brilliant free-kick from 25 yards out to level the scores just after the hour mark.

Ireland pressed for a winning goal but the point was enough to see Colin O’Brien’s side top Group 5 in first place.

“It was a rollercoaster of a game today,” said O’Brien.

“It was a really big test but we are delighted, we are absolutely delighted because we top the group.

“Our objective was to qualify and we secured that after two games but today was a bigger challenge and we knew that.

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“Going two goals down but then coming back to get two goals shows that there is a bit of substance in the squad as well and that is really important going forward. We are delighted with the tournament as a whole and especially today.”

Republic of Ireland: Walsh; Curtis, Heffernan, Browne, O’Brien; Lipsuic (Ferizaj ht), McManus, Umeh (Kone Doherty 77; Vata, O’Mahony, Zefi.

Poland: Mendes-Dudzinski; Guercio, Kurzydlowski, Tudruj, Bockniak (Dziuba 91); Kalemba (Bernatowicz 70), Tomaszewski, Staniszewski; Masiak (Jedrasik 91), Slawinski, Terlecki (Gruszecki 73).

Referee: Sigurd Kringstad (Norway). 

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