REPORT | Serbia MU16 3-2 Ireland MU16
Ireland had led 2-0 thanks to first-half goal from Naj Razi and Trent Kone-Doherty but a second-half comeback from the hosts saw them advance to the final, while Ireland will play North Macedonia in a 3rd/4th place play-off on Thursday afternoon.
Paul Osam’s side looked threatening in the game, played at the Serbian FA’s HQ, with Nickson Okosun a continuous problem for the Serbian backline.
He could have put Ireland ahead in the 20th minute when his curling effort narrowly missed the top left-hand corner. A few minutes later he forced Serbia goalkeeper Jovan Miladinovic into a smart save after turning his man sharply on the edge of the box.
In the 28th minute Ireland stopper Jason Healy was forced into a flying save after a Serbia counter attack. Jovan Zivkovic let fly but Healy tipped the effort around the post for a corner. From the resulting corner Ireland broke and Kone-Doherty put Okosun through on goal but again Miladinovic produced another fine save from the Bohs man.
The breakthrough for Ireland would come in the 36th minute and it was a moment of magic from Shamrock Rovers' Naj Razi. The wideman collected the ball on the right wing, drove at the defence before firing an effort from the corner of the box into the bottom left-hand corner.
Seconds later it was 2-0. Kone-Doherty pressed the Serbian defence into a mistake from the kick-off. The loose ball fell to Okosun who put Kone-Doherty in on goal and he finished through the legs of Miladinovic to give Ireland a two-goal cushion heading into the break.
But the second half would belong to the hosts who hit three unanswered goals. First Mihajilo Cvetkovic capitalised on a loose ball in the area in the 57th minute to find the net when Ireland failed to clear from a corner.
Not even a minute later Ireland could have extended their lead to 3-1 when Daniel Negry-McGrath went for goal after a Luke Kehir flick-on but Miladinovic got down low to flick the ball away.
The equaliser came in the 63rd minute when Vejko Vukojevic intercepted an Ireland clearance and he was able to fire past Healy from inside the box.
The young Boys in Green had a glorious chance to reclaim the lead in the 83rd minute when substitute Romeo Akachukwu weaved his way into the box and squared to Shaun Wade. But his side footed attempt struck the bar and bounced clear.
And just two minutes later came the winner. Cvetkovic was brought down for a free-kick on the angle of the area presenting a dangerous opportunity for Serbia. Andrej Petrovic stood over the ball and he fired his effort in the top right-hand corner to give them a 3-2 lead and win the game.
Serbia: Miladinovic, Radojkovic, Milosavijevic, Makaji, Cvetkovic, Petrovic, Delibasic, Maksimovic, Zivkovic, Dordevic, Vukojevic.
Subsitutes: Eric, Cuk, Plavsic, Stojanovic, Filimonovic, Duric, Subotic, Alilovic, Jovanoic
Republic of Ireland: Healy, Mackey, O’Sullivan, Hayden, Grante, Negry-McGrath (Akachukwu, 65), Kone-Doherty (Wade, 72), Dodd, Razi, Kehir (Mooney 80), Okosun(Mooney, 72)
Referee: Miroslav Milenkovic (Serbia)