REPORT | Portugal MU17 4-1 Ireland MU17
Mark O’Mahony continued his excellent goalscoring exploits with a typical poachers finish that gave Ireland hope in the second half but ultimately goals from Joao Veloso, Jose Rodrigues, Rodrigo Ribeiro, and Ivan Lima ensured Portugal made the dream start to the campaign.
Ireland started brightly and more than held their own in the first half but somehow they found themselves trailing by two goals to nil at the interval.
The Portuguese took the lead with 19 minutes on the clock thanks to a stunning effort from Joao Veloso.
The midfielder collected an overhit cross from right-back Martim Fernandes, cut in from the left flank, and from 25 yards he curled a sensational strike into the far top right corner of the net, giving goalkeeper Conor Walsh absolutely no chance.
The young Boys in Green responded well to that setback but deep into injury time at the end of the first period they were caught on the counter-attack.
A long punt out of his penalty area by Ussumane Djalo dropped in behind the Irish defence and after latching onto it, striker Jose Rodrigues kept his composure and coolly slotted the ball under the advancing keeper.
The visitors gave themselves hope just past the hour mark when substitute Franco Umeh’s cross from the right was hammered back across the face of goal by Kevin Zefi and Cork City’s Mark O’Mahony reacted well to turn the ball home at the back post.
O’Mahony missed a great chance to level terms when he dragged his shot well wide of the far post after being teed up cleverly by Justin Ferizaj’s exquisite through ball.
That miss would prove to be costly as Portugal netted twice in stoppage time thanks to a superb close-range volley into the top left corner from Rodrigo Ribeiro before substitute Ivan Lima hammered a rebound into the roof of the net from a few yards.
Ireland’s next qualifier sees them take on Finland at the Parque Desportivo Sant'Ana, Penalva Castelo, Portugal, on Saturday before they then face Bulgaria at the Municipal, Santa Comba Dao, Portugal, on Tuesday.
Portugal: Fernandes; Fernandes, Monteiro, Muniz, Barroso; Luis, Veloso (Oliveira Rodrigues 83), Djalo (Goncalves 63); Moreira (Varela 83), Rodrigues (Lima 63), Ribeiro (Andrade 95)
Republic of Ireland: Walsh; Curtis, Heffernan (Sean McHale 59), Savshak (Daniel McHale 83), O’Brien; Lipsiuc (Umeh 59), Ferizaj, Murphy; Vata (McLoughlin 98), O’Mahony, Zefi
Referee: Adam Ladeback (Sweden)