Irish U17’s strike late to claim 2-2 draw with Denmark
Republic of Ireland U17s 2-2 Denmark
Paul George bagged an injury-time equaliser to secure a draw for the Republic of Ireland against Denmark in their opening UEFA Under-17 Championship Elite Qualifying Round fixture in Agii-Theodori, Greece today.
Celtic striker George - making his debut for John Morling's side - slotted home in the 81st minute after connecting with a low right wing cross from Philip Roberts and squeezing it just past the goalkeeper.
The Danes thought they had claimed all three points with Copenhagen striker Kenneth Zohore - who played against Chelsea and Barcelona in the Champions League this season - had hit the net with three minutes left in regulation time.
Arsenal's Steven Smith and Watford's Tommie Hoban had kept a tight rein on the striker up to that point but Zohore showed his class when he pounced on a loose ball in the box to fire home via an upright.
The Irish had started well and broke the deadlock in the 29th minute when Arsenal's Roberts headed past Danish keeper Oliver Korch from a Smith cross.
Belvedere FC's Darragh Lenihan had a chance to extend Ireland's lead in the 35th minute but Korch made an excellent stop from the midfielder's strike then reacted well to keep out Hoban's headed effort from the rebound.
Hoban was involved in a controversial equaliser for the Danes when he was penalised for a challenge on Riza Durmisi in the 39th minute and Viktor Fisher scored from the penalty spot. Irish keeper Joe Coll got a hand to the strike but could not keep it out.
Ireland picked up two bookings in the game with Lenihan and Luke Gallagher receiving cautions. Lenihan will miss out on the next Irish fixture against hosts Greece on Friday due to a booking picked up in the first qualifying round.
Greece beat Latvia 2-0 in their opening fixture today.
"We played very in the first half but the penalty decision was crucial. I've looked at the replay of it and I really can't see how a penalty could be awarded for that challenge," said Republic of Ireland under-17 manager John Morling.
"The lads were very disappointed at the break because we'd played very well but were just level.
"Both sides had plenty of chances and it looked like Denmark had won it when they scored with a few minutes left but we showed real character to bounce back and level.
"I'm delighted for Paul George to mark his first game with us with a goal. It was an excellent goal too after great play by Philip Roberts down the wing.
"Denmark were as good as any team we've played this year. That includes the likes of Italy, Portugal, Holland and the Czech Republic so I'm happy with the performance."
Republic of Ireland - Joe Coll (Man Utd); Colm Horgan (Salthill Devon), Sean Kavanagh (Belvedere), Thommie Hoban (Watford), Steven Smith (Arsenal), Luke Gallagher (Cherry Orchard), Kenneth McEvoy (Tottenham), Darragh Lenihan (Belvedere), Philip Roberts (Arsenal), Kealan Dillon (Derby County), Sam Byrne (St Joseph's Boys). Sub: Paul George (Celtic) for McEvoy 65 mins.
UEFA U17 European Championship - Elite Qualifying Phase
Group 3 Fixtures and Results
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Greece 2-0 Latvia
Kick-off: 12 pm (local time)
Denmark 2-2 Republic of Ireland
Kick-off: 3pm (local time)
Friday, March 25, 2011
Republic of Ireland v Greece - Fotis Kosmas Stadium, Alexandropolis
Kick-off: 1pm (local time)
Denmark v Latvia
Monday, March 28, 2011
Latvia v Republic of Ireland - Fotis Kosmas Stadium, Alexandropolis
Greece v Denmark - Municipal Stadium, Komotini
Kick-off: 12 pm