REPORT | Ireland MU15 3-1 Saudi Arabia MU15
Billy O’Neill, Max Kovalevskis and Billy Hayes were all on target for Ireland who will play in the semi-final this Saturday.
The result confirmed back-to-back wins in less than 24 hours having overcome Czechia yesterday in the same competition.
But despite the challenge of playing two games in two days, Ireland showed little signs of letting up on their recent positive performances.
The young Boys in Green had to be patient to unlock the Saudi defence but with almost half-an-hour gone, the deadlock was broken and it was a goal worth waiting for.
A throw-in for Ireland was followed by an exchange of passes between Tayo Dunne and Grady McDonnell before Bray Wanderers man O’Neill swept his effort beyond Alotataibi in the Saudi Arabia goal for his fifth Ireland goal in five international appearances.
Minutes later, Dunne almost produced a moment of magic when he and Hayes worked a smart corner routine that saw debutant Dunne curl an effort towards the top corner but Alotataibi produced a flying save to keep it at 1-0.
Five minutes after the break it was 2-0 to Jason Donohue’s side. Kovalevskis scored his first goal for Ireland after Oisin McDonagh strode out of defence, exchanged a pass with Ramon Martos and played in Kovalevskis to slot home.
In the 50th minute it was 3-0 to Ireland, a fine through ball from Rory Finneran was finished off by Hayes who took his time to find the bottom corner to give Ireland a commanding lead.
Saudi Arabia pulled a goal back in the 64th minute through Turki Farhan A Alqahtani when he followed up an effort that struck the crossbar and fell for him to tap home.
The goal didn’t impact Ireland who closed out the game in a professional manner and will enjoy a couple of days of preparation before their final four clash at the weekend.
Republic of Ireland: Topcu, Costello, McGrath, McDonagh (C) (Steward, 60), Sherlock, Dunne (Finneran, 40), Skoubo Keely, McDonnell (Martos, 40), Hayes, Kovalevskis, O’Neill (Noonan, 75)
Saudi Arabia: Alotataibi, Aldawood, Alabadrabalnabe, Ayn, Aldosari, Alfawaz, Alshamrani, Hamzah, Hazizi, Barnawai, Sufyani. Substitutes: Bo Khulafi, M. A Alotaibi, Alhakem, Almsrahi, Al-Dowsary, Alkhlaf, Hibah, Alqahtani, Almalki, Hazizi, Alenazi,
International fixtures/results (all times are Irish times)
Tuesday, April 25 | Ireland MU15 3-1 Czechia MU15
Wednesday, April 26 | Ireland MU15 3-1 Saudi Arabia MU15
Saturday, April 29 | Ireland MU15 v TBC, Venue and KO TBC, Semi Final
Monday, May 1 | Ireland MU15 v TBC , Venue and KO TBC, Final/ 3rd/4th Play-Off