REPORT | U21 | Ireland U21 3-2 Türkiye - Emakhu wins it late
Emakhu got on the end of Tony Springett's cross to apply a 96th-minute winner after Ireland came from behind twice to down the visitors.
In the first competitive Under-21 International game at Turners Cross in 14 years, Jim Crawford’s new look side – minus Sinclair Armstrong who received a late call-up to the senior side – applied all the early pressure forcing a number of set pieces, one of which almost earned the breakthrough with just five minutes played.
Sam Curtis rose brilliantly from an in-swinging corner from the right and powered a header down on target only to be denied on the line by Yasin Ozcan.
Minutes later Sean Roughan stung the palms of Dogan Alemdar with a free kick from distance as the young Boys in Green began building ahead of steam.
The visitors, who saw their skipper Serdar Saatci booked early on, struggled to deal with the pace of Johnny Kenny and creativity of player-of-the-match Andrew Moran early on.
The only thing missing from the excellent start was a goal and with a quarter of played, the deadlock should have been broken. The lightning quick Kenny beat the Turkiye offside trap but took a heavy second touch which allowed the ball to run through to the grateful Dogan Alemdar who was quick off his line.
All the Irish hard work was undone seconds later when Erencan Yardimici bundled his way into the box, in the visitors first foray into the Irish area, and was eventually brought down by Anselmo Garcia MacNulty.
Danger man for the visitors was Kenan Yildiz, who spent 10-years at Bayern Munich’s academy before switching to Italian giants Juventus, showed his class and composure to send Josh Keeley the wrong way, whipping his penalty into the bottom left corner.
Ireland continued to create despite the sucker punch and Roughan should have done better when Alemdar made a mess of Moran’s cross from the right, but on his weaker foot, the Lincoln City man swiped wildly at his volley sending the ball over the bar.
Goals breath confidence. And it was the visitors who finished the half strongly and could have doubled their lead when that man again Kenan Yildiz, the talented attacking midfielder failed to hit the target from the edge of the area.
Another bout of pressure from the home side came just after the break with the home side spurning another good opportunity to get level. This time, Garcia-McNulty, just couldn’t get over the ball with his header and hit the target from Roughan’s corner.
The set piece avenue paid dividends moments later when another outstanding Roughan corner was only half cleared to Irish skipper Moran, who controlled the ball on the chest and hit a technically beautiful, world class volley into the far top corner to make it 1-1.
Well in the ascendancy now, the home side thought they had gotten in front when Moran coolly slotted into the bottom corner following some high pressing, only for referee, Joonas Jaanovits, to rule it out for a soft looking free-kick by the on-loan at Blackburn Rovers star.
Following a lengthy break in play for treatment to the Turkish keeper, that undoubtedly disrupted the Irish momentum, and much like the first half Turkey grabbed the lead against the run of play.
Substitute Cihan Canak made no mistake, hammering home a first time left-footed volley from a deep cross on the right-hand side.
With time running out, Moran grabbed the game by the scruff, picking up the ball on the right and took on all comers as he drove into the area before being brought down. Up stepped substitute Zak Gilsenan, under serious pressure, who smashed home the equaliser from the spot, with just 5 minutes remaining of normal time.
In the fourth minute of injury time, Ireland thought they had won it when Bosun Lawal powered a header on target but was denied by an outstanding reaction save by Alemdar.
And just two minutes later, the hosts grabbed the deserved winner when Tony Springett sprung down the right wing before fizzing in a low cross towards the penalty spot, finding fellow substitute Aidomo Emakh who finished expertly first time to seal all three points.
After eventually catching their breath, Jim Crawford’s charges now look forward to another home game on Tuesday evening when they welcome San Marino to 'The Cross.'
Republic of Ireland: Josh Keeley, Sam Curtis, Sean Grehan (Tony Springett, 84’), Bosun Lawal, Anselmo Garcia-McNulty, Sean Roughan (James Furlong, 90+3’), Matt Healy, Baba Adeeko, Adam Murphy (Zak Gilsenan, 72’), Andrew Moran, Johnny Kenny (Aidomo Emakhu, 72’)
Türkiye: Dogan Alemdar, Ugur Kaan Yildiz, Serdar Saatci (Emin Byram, 72’), Ravil Tagir, Yasin Ozcan, Ansel Baran Potur, Bartug Elmaz (Metehan Baltaci, 81’), Cem Turkmen, Kenan Yildiz (Cihan Canak, 71’), Erencan Yardimci, Enis Destan