Young U21s lose narrowly in Switzerland
Switzerland U21 1 - 0 Republic of Ireland U21
The Republic of Ireland Under-21s fell to an unlucky defeat against Switzerland, the Irish youngsters going down to a single goal despite an impressive display.
The result secures Switzerland's place at next summer's European Championships, but the hosts can consider themselves fortunate to have claimed victory against a youthful Irish side who dominated the match for large periods.
It was Ireland who made all the early running, carving out four chances in the opening 15 minutes.
Anthony Stokes got the first sniff of goal after seven minutes, cutting inside and forcing a good save from Swiss captain Yann Sommer.
Sommer again kept the tie scoreless one minute later when he brilliantly saved from the lively Alan Judge after the wideman had been played in by Robbie Brady.
Brady and Judge combined again on 11 minutes, the Manchester United player's cross field ball finding Judge in space at the edge of the box, only for his first time volley to hit the side-netting.
On 16 minutes it was Conor Hourihane's chance to go close for the visitors, the Corkman's shot firing across goal after he had been played in by Stokes.
Switzerland's first real sight of goal came on 18 minutes when, following a scramble in the box, Timm Klose had a close range effort brilliantly blocked by Stephen Henderson.
Both sides looked comfortable in possession but it was Ireland who continued to show more cutting edge in the final third, the attacking quartet of Judge, Stokes, Brady and Hourihane causing the home defence plenty of problems.
Ireland captain Eddie Nolan could have opened the scoring on 36 minutes when he was left unmarked only to head Judge's corner kick agonisingly wide.
Anthony Stokes was successfully finding plenty of space in and around the Swiss penalty area and Celtic's new striker had a couple of opportunities in the dying moments of the half. On 39 minutes he was played in by Brady only to shoot over. Two minutes later Stokes again found space only for his effort to be blocked by Sommer.
Despite their superiority, Ireland undeservedly fell behind just two minutes into the second half when Fabien Frei's effort from the edge of the box curled past the out-stretched arm of Henderson and into the back of the net.
Clear-cut chances were rare in a more evenly-matched second half. Henderson made a comfortable save on 54 minutes after Khalifa shot from 12 yards.
Four minutes later, the Brady-Judge combination led to another chance for Ireland but Judge, under pressure from the home defence, shot over from inside the box.
Ireland almost fell further behind on 72 minutes when Wuthrich's free kick took a wicked deflection but Henderson managed to scrabble across his goal and push the ball wide for a corner kick.
Temporary Ireland Under-21 manager Wim Koevermans introduced Joe Mason and Adam Rooney to bolster the attack but a disciplined defensive performance from the hosts managed to deny Ireland the goal their performance deserved.
Switzerland: Yann Sommer, Gaetano Berardi, Fabio Daprela, Philipp Koch, Timm Klose, Amir Abrashi (Daniel Pavlovic, h/t), Sebastien Wuthrich, Pajtim Kasami, Nassim Ben Khalifa (Orhan Mustafi, 72 mins), Fabian Frei, Steven Zuber (Granit Xhaka, 82 mins)
Substitutes not used: Kevin Fikentscher, Rolf Feltscher, Simone Grippo, Pascal Schurpf
Republic of Ireland: Stephen Henderson, Seamus Coleman, Gavin Gunning, Rob Kiernan, Eddie Nolan, Alan Judge, Conor Hourihane, Conor Clifford (Joe Mason, 81 mins), Anthony Stokes (Adam Rooney, 76 mins), Richie Towell, Robbie Brady
Substitutes not used: Brendan Moloney, Lanre Oyebanjo, Shane Redmond, Graham Carey
Referee: Sergey Karasev (Russia).