REPORT | MU17 | Ireland 0-5 Croatia

REPORT | MU17 | Ireland 0-5 Croatia

Ireland Men’s Under-17s suffered their third defeat of the Elite Round qualifiers going down 5-0 to Croatia this afternoon.

A last minute goal by Ljubo Puljic for Croatia saw them advance to finals on goal difference at the expense of the holders Germany.
 
It was always to be a challenge for the young Boys in Green who were bested in a ‘group of death’ containing Portugal, Germany, Croatia.
 
Despite this, Ireland played each game on the front foot but the opposition proved too much. Defeats against Portugal and Germany ruled out the MU17s chances of qualification so the today’s game against Croatia was an opportunity to end their campaign on a positive.
 
Ireland set out their intent early on, Mason Melia saw a header flash just wide inside five minutes as Melia and Michael Noonan led an all St.Patrick’s Athletic strike partnership.
 
Noonan showed his quality in the 12th minute, bullying his way through several Croatian challenges before firing an effort that went just past the far post.
 
However in the 33rd minute Ireland were a goal down. Croatia swung in a corner that was headed away by Ireland but in his attempt clear the ball Matthew Moore brought down Bruno Durdov resulting in a penalty. Mislav Cutuk stepped up to send Oisin Cooney the wrong way.
 
Ireland piled forward looking to equalise and Luca Cailloce went close with a half volley at the back post that would have been a deserved goal.
 
But O’Brien’s side were hit with a sucker punch less than a minute later, Marko Zebic was on the end of corner to head into the net to give Croatia a 2-0 lead going into the break.
 
Ireland looked for a way back in the game and Cailloce had another opportunity when his header went narrowly wide on the hour mark.
 
Needing to better Germany’s goal difference to qualify, Croatia took the game away from Ireland. First Patrik Maric was on hand in the 80th minute to poke home following a Cooney save, then, with five minutes remaining, Croatia and Cutuk converted their second spotkick of the game.
 
With practically the last play of the contest defender Puljić rose highest to head home and send his team to the finals in Cyprus.
 
Ireland: Cooney, Harnett, McCarthy, Cailloce, McGlinchey, (Sherlock, 63’) Fitzgerald (Murray, 63’) Moore (C), O’Donnell (Finneran, 72’), Ochoa (O’Sullivan, 63’), Melia, Noonan,
 
Croatia: Rajic, Pajsar, Zebic, Puljic, Mandic (Milisic, 80’), Ahmeti (Baric, 80’), Vojvodic, Huskic (Bakovic, 21’), Covic (Maric, 80’), Durdov (Vrzic, 67’), Cutuk
 
UEFA European Under-17 Championship Elite Round Qualifiers
 
Wednesday, March 20 | Portugal MU17 4-1 Ireland MU17
Saturday, March 23 | Germany MU17 2-0 Ireland MU17
Tuesday, March 26 | Ireland MU17 0-5 Croatia MU17

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