UEFA U19 European Championships Report: Republic of Ireland U19 2 - 1 Czech Republic U19Sun, Jul 21 2019
The Republic of Ireland under-19s have secured their passage to the semi-finals of the UEFA U19 European Championships thanks to a costly two-one win over the Czech Republic in Yerevan.
Barry Coffey’s winner, coupled with a French win over Norway, saw the Boys in Green through to the knockout stage where they will face Portugal on Wednesday.
However, Tom Mohan will be unable to call upon the key duo of Lee O’Connor and Afolabi who will both be forced to sit out due to suspension.
Knowing that only a result bettering Norway’s against France would suffice in terms of getting to the semi-final stage, Ireland began rather sluggishly as both sides struggled to dominate proceedings.
Manchester United’s O’Connor had the Boys in Green’s first effort on target which was easily saved by Czech keeper Matej Kovar.
Having struggled to initially imprint his game on proceedings, Shamrock Rovers midfielder Brandon Kavanagh ought to have sent the Boys in Green ahead as he missed an unmarked header in the penalty area.
Powerful forward Jonathan Afolabi forced his way through on the left flank before finding the unmarked Kavanagh, but he was unable to keep his effort down as the goal gaped for the attacking midfielder.
Kavanagh’s great opportunity kicked the Czechs into gear ever so slightly and through striker Tomas Kepl, they almost turned home an opener.
Kepl was put under immense pressure from Oisin McEntee with goalkeeper Brian Maher watching on as the ball dipped just over the bar.
However, Afolabi was proving too hot for the Czech’s to handle in the first half and it was through him that Ireland grabbed a deserved opener.
The forward blasted through David Heidenreich to cut inside to the penalty area. Cutting inside, the 19-year-old fired past a helpless Kovar as Tom Mohan’s side took the lead just before the break.
Czech Republic reacted well to falling behind with some spells of sustained pressure, but they were unable to create any real chances of note as the Boys in Green went in at the break one clear.
Having struggled for much of the opening period, the Czech’s produced a strong opening phase in the second half, going close on many occasions.
St Patrick’s Athletic under-19 shot-stopper Maher was forced to deal smartly with efforts on goal from Kepl and winger Michal Kohut.
Perhaps the best opening of the half came from a set-piece scenario for the 2011 Euro under-19 championships runners-up, as defender David Heidenreich went mightily close at the back post with both Ireland and Maher breathing a huge sigh of relief.
Sub Matt Everitt came on at the break and produced a great opportunity to unlock the Czech defence with his trickery on the wing. However, his curling effort was always going to be saved by Manchester United reserve ‘keeper Kovar.
With the game appearing to be petering out somewhat, proceedings roared back into life within the space of two crazy second half minutes.
Jan Suchoparek’s side grabbed an equaliser with just ten to play through Vasil Kusej who flicked home a cross from the right with a deft touch.
Ireland were however not to be denied and grabbed a deserved winner through Coffey just moments after, slotting into the back of the net with a composed finish.
Ireland held on at the death as the Czechs opted to take a more physical and direct approach in the final stages, but it was not to be in the end for Suchoparek’s side.
However, the victory came at a cost with captain O’Connor and Afolabi both being harshly booked late on. The bookings mean that the duo will miss out on Wednesday’s semi-final against Portugal.
Republic of Ireland U19: Brian Maher; Mark McGuinness, Oisin McEntee, Andy Lyons, Kameron Ledwidge; Lee O'Connor, Brandon Kavanagh (Barry Coffey, 56), Joe Hodge; Ali Reghba (Fest Ebosele, 90+5), Jonathan Afolabi (Conor Grant, 90+6), Tyriek Wright (Matt Everitt, h/t).
Subs not used: Niall Morahan, George McMahon, Jack James, Ciaran Brennan, Andrew Omobamidele.
Booked: Ali Reghba (23), Lee O’Connor (89), Jonathan Afolabi (90).
Czech Republic U19: Matej Kovar; Michal Fukala (Daniel Finek, 18), David Heidenreich, Vaclav Míka (Zybynek Konepasek, h/t), David Zima; Filip Kaloc, Michal Kohut, Vasil Kusej, Tomas Zlatohlavek (Tomas Solil, 78); Tomas Kepl (Jakub Selnar, 78), David Machacek (Lukas Husek, 85).
Subs not used: Michael Honig, Lukas Husek, Jan Vyklicky, Patrick Slemena.
Booked: Lukas Husek (90+5).
Referee: Anastasios Papapetrou (Greece).
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Joe Hodge (Republic of Ireland U19).
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