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Ireland U21s leave it late to seal important European Championship qualifying win

Harry Charsley and Sean Maguire ensured Noel King’s men earned all three points in Waterford.

Charsley celebrates his goal.
Charsley celebrates his goal.
Image: Inpho

Ireland 2
Slovenia 0

TWO LATE GOALS from Harry Charsley and Sean Maguire sealed a 2-0 win for the Republic of Ireland U21s against Slovenia in the Uefa European Champsionship qualifying round.

Charsley fired the opener with three minutes to go in the RSC in Waterford before a stoppage time penalty made sure of the deserved win.

A slow start to the game saw neither team create any chances of note until the visitors almost took a 12th minute lead. Aleks Pihler’s free kick from the right corner was met at the back post by the head of Kenan Krajnc but his header dropped just over the far post and wide.

Cork City’s Kevin O’Connor made progress down the left as the Republic of Ireland attacked and found Josh Cullen, but his cross to the back post evaded the green jerseys in the penalty area.

The Irish continued to look for the opener as Courtney Duffus and Eoghan O’Connell linked up well but the latter couldn’t get his strike away under pressure inside the Slovenian penalty area.

Olamide Shodipo should have given the hosts the lead eight minutes before half time when he got through at the back post. Shodipo set himself up with a good first touch but fired over the crossbar as the onrushing Slovenian ‘keeper Sorcan closed the angle.

Roy Keane, Steve Guppy, Seamus McDonagh and Martin O'Neill Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane watching on. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Shodipo was in the thick of the action at the start of the second half as he tested Slovenian ‘keeper Sorcan from long range, before his brilliant cross from the left found Charsley at the back post but his header was just off target.

O’Connell’s cross from the right found Charsley but he couldn’t head past the ‘keeper, before Charsley’s long-range strike from the right almost caught Sorcan out but he recovered well to keep the ball from the crossing the line.

A rare second-half attack saw Slovenia substitute Alen Ozbolt make space on the right side but Irish captain Thomas Hoban made an important block from the striker’s shot.

Ireland looked to have taken the lead with 11 minutes remaining when  O’Connor’s curling right-wing cross found Shodipo in the penalty and he fired past Sorcan, but referee Thorvaldur Árnason adjudged the striker to have handled as he controlled the ball.

The Ireland team The Ireland team. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

But the deserved Irish breakthrough did arrive with three minutes of normal time remaining. Jack Byrne’s superb ball found Cullen inside the penalty area and he laid the ball to Charsley who fired past Sorcan.

And it got even better as Noel King’s side doubled their lead in stoppage time. Maguire charged forward and was fouled by Denis Sme. The defender was red carded before the Cork City striker stepped up to fire the penalty into the bottom corner to seal the deserved 2-0 win and keep their slim qualification hopes alive.

Republic of Ireland U21: Daniel Rogers; Eoghan O’Connell (Connor Dimaio 90+3), Thomas Hoban(C), Glen Rea, Kevin O’Connor; Harry Charsley, Josh Cullen, Jack Byrne, Alan Browne, Olamide Shodipo; Courtney Duffus (Sean Maguire 89).

Slovenia U21: Grega Sorcan; Luka Krajnc (C), Tine Kavcic, Denis Sme; Aljaz Krefl, Aleks Pihler, Kenan Bajric, Domen Crnigoj; Leo Stulac (Jure Balkovec 6), Gregor Bajde (Joe Gorenc Stankovic 81); Dino Hotic (Alen Ozbolt 71).

Referee: Thorvaldur Árnason

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Brendan White

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