Ireland draw with Swiss in UEFA U19 opener
Republic of Ireland 2 Switzerland 2
PAUL DOOLIN'S Republic of Ireland Under 19's secured a 2-2 draw with Switzerland in the first of their three UEFA European Championship Elite Phase qualifiers.
The Irish started their Group 2 campaign in Belgrade with a point after Sam Byrne and Kieran Sadlier put them ahead before Switzerland levelled through Michael Frey and Samuele Campo.
Ireland started brightly with Noe Baba and Steven Smith both going close before Byrne opened the scoring on 15 minutes with a strong header that struck the crossbar before bouncing in.
Playing positive football, Ireland pushed on and got a second goal when Sadlier showed off his accuracy by curling a free-kick from the edge of the opposition's penalty area into the back of the net.
Doolin's team went close again when Will Hayhurst headed an effort against the crossbar before the Swiss pulled one back when Campo crossed for Frey to head in two minutes before half-time.
Then seven minutes after the restart, Campo got a goal of his own when racing through to slot past goalkeeper Ian Lawlor, who had hardly been called on up to that point.
Substitute Kenny McEvoy almost snatched a win for Ireland late on, but they had to settle for a point. Next up is a clash with Slovakia on Saturday before facing hosts Serbia on Tuesday.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Lawlor; Baba, Sweeney, Smith, Griffin; Gallagher, Miele; Hayhurst (McEvoy 70), Sadlier (Tiofack 88), Garmston; Byrne.
SWITZERLAND: Mvogo; Luchinger, Matri (Wuthrich 60), Gulen, Untersee; Corbaz, Alesevic, Tabakovic (Nsiala 70); Campo, Frey, Khelifi (Selmani 85).
Referee: S Lapochkin (RUS).