REPORT | Ireland U21 3-0 Bosnia & Herzegovina U21
A superb brace from the man-of-the-match William Smallbone and a neat finish from Ademipo Odubeko was enough to earn Ireland the three points which keeps them on track for qualification.
But it was Bosnia who made the brighter start and they created the first opportunity in the eighth minute but winger Amar Memic could only head Nenad Nikic’s excellent cross wide of the back post.
Jim Crawford’s side finally settled into the game and they threatened at the other end of the pitch with a quarter of an hour on the clock.
A powerful run from Tyreik Wright allowed the striker to pick out Smallbone on the edge of the penalty area but after the number ten quickly whipped the ball to the back post, Odubeko directed his close range header wide of the back stick.
But they wouldn’t have long to rue that missed opportunity as the young Boys in Green broke the deadlock moments later with Smallbone doing the honours.
On this occasion, the roles were reversed as Odubeko’s clever lay-off sent the Southampton forward clear on goal and his low drive squirmed under the goalkeeper at his near post.
The two teams soon cancelled each other out and the chances dried up as a result although Bosnia almost snatched an equaliser before half time but keeper Brian Maher raced from his line to smother Aleksandar Kahvic when he was bearing down on goal.
The visitors continued that momentum into the second period and shortly after Ivan Basic blasted over a decent opening, Ireland needed Lee O’Connor to nod Tarik Muharemovic’s header off the line before Maher superbly stopped Osmic’s curler.
But it was Ireland that grabbed the game’s crucial second goal in the 63rd minute and it put them in complete control as they looked to earn another significant triumph.
A clever interchange between Odubeko and Tierney sent the former through one on one with the keeper and he made no mistake, coolly drilling the ball into the far bottom left corner.
And the Republic sealed the victory in the 82nd minute when Smallbone added his second and his side’s third, firing the loose ball into the roof of the net after good work from Wright in the build-up.
Next up for Ireland is their meeting with Montenegro at Tallaght Stadium on Monday evening (kick-off is at 5 pm) before they travel to take on Italy eight days later for their final group game.
Republic of Ireland: Maher; O’Connor, McEntee (O’Brien 53), McGuinness, Bagan; Coventry, Kilkenny (Devoy 78), Smallbone, Tierney (O’Neill 64); Odubeko (Ferguson 64), Wright.
Bosnia & Herzegovina: Damijanovic; Dejanovic (Mesinovic 72), Muharemovic, Marjanovic, Nikic; Savic, Sucic (Popara 72), Basic; Osmic, Kahvic (Lukic ht), Memic.
Referee: Luca Cibelli (Switzerland).