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18-year-old Norwich striker scores twice as Ireland U21s make winning start at Toulon Tournament

Stephen Kenny’s young side secured an impressive 4-1 victory against China on Monday afternoon.

Adam Idah (left) scored two penalties after the interval.
Adam Idah (left) scored two penalties after the interval.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

STEPHEN KENNY MADE it two wins from two as Ireland U21 boss on Monday afternoon, as his impressive young side made a winning start at the prestigious Toulon Tournament with a 4-1 victory against China.

Highly-rated 18-year-old Norwich striker Adam Idah scored two second-half penalties after the interval at the Stade de Lattre de Tassigny in France, with Waterford’s Zack Elbouzedi and Brighton’s Aaron Connolly also on target.

Kenny’s side secured a memorable 3-1 victory against Luxembourg at Tallaght Stadium in their opening Euro 2021 qualifier at the end of March and today make it back-to-back wins, scoring seven goals and conceding two as a new era for the Ireland U21s continues.

Fresh off a plane from Madrid having collected a Champions League winners’ medal with Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday night, Caoimhin Kelleher stood between the sticks for Ireland.

But it was at the other end of the field where Kenny’s side made a lightning-quick start, as some brilliant running from Connolly teed up Elbouzedi inside the box before the Waterford midfielder struck an emphatic shot off the underside of the crossbar for 1-0 after just 33 seconds.

It went from good to great for Ireland just a few minutes later. Connolly went from provider to goalscorer in the fifth minute of the first half, latching onto possession from Conor Masteron’s headed knock-down before rifling a low shot into the bottom corner.

China, fielding an U23 side for the Toulon Tournament in preparation for next summer’s 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, pulled a goal back with 18 minutes on the clock. Yang Li halved the deficit, but two penalties after the break from Idah would see Ireland pull away.

The victory represents a perfect start to this year’s competition — the first time Ireland have played in the Toulon Tournament in 17 years. The three group winners, as well as the best of three runners’-up, passage through to the semi-finals.

Ireland will take on Mexico on Thursday afternoon in their second game in Group C, before facing Bahrain three days later.

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Aaron Gallagher

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