REPORT | MU17 | Portugal 4-1 Ireland

REPORT | MU17 | Portugal 4-1 Ireland

The Republic of Ireland Men's Under-17s fell to a 4-1 defeat in the first of their UEFA U-17 EURO Elite Round Qualifiers in the Cidade Desportiva do SC Braga in Portugal.

A strong Portuguese outfit got the edge in this one even though Colin O’Brien's side played well and got their goal through Mason Melia’s first-half penalty.
 
With 15 players in the squad coming from the EA SPORTS LOI Academies, Ireland showed a lot of maturity in trying to retain possession in the opening exchanges, although Sporting CP's lightening quick right winger Geovany Quenda gave an early warning of the threat he carries with his direct dribbling.
 
With just a few minutes played Chelsea starlet Harry McGlinchy linked up brilliantly with the dynamic Niall McAndrew down the left before putting in a dangerous low ball that Melia was unlucky not to convert.
 
But with 10 minutes on the clock Ireland fell behind when a heavy touch from Bohemians stopper Joe Collins allowed Gabriel Silva to pounce on it before the ball eventually sat up nicely for Portugal captain Joao Simoes to volley in.
 
Undeterred, Ireland almost hit back straight away when the relentless St. Patrick’s Athletic front man Melia showed excellent pace to create a 2 v 1 situation on the break. The talented 16-year-old slightly over hit his pass to McAndrew, who had burst forward from deep, ending with the Derby County midfielder seeing his powerful strike well held by Diogo Ferreira.
 
With the goal advantage, the hosts began to force Ireland deeper and managed to double their lead with a slick passing move ending with another Sporting star, Gabriel Silva, finishing from close range.
 
But again, the brave Boys in Green kept going and just after the half hour deservedly halved the deficit through the deadly duo of McAndrew and Melia.
 
The former showed great vision to play Sports Direct Men's FAI Cup winner Melia in behind the Portuguese defence. The forward's touch was immaculate and he raced into the box before being tripped by the recovering Rafael Mota. Melia got up and coolly sent the keeper the wrong way with his spot kick.
 
Ireland, looking to make it to consecutive European Championships, were desperately unlucky not to be level at the break following another well-worked move down the left side. Cathal O’Sullivan timed a perfect pass to the overlapping McGlinchey on the left, who then whipped in a low cross but unfortunately for Melia – agonisingly at full stretch – could only guide his effort over the bar.
 
Disaster struck just six minutes after the restart when Silva netted his second of the game showing great strength before looping his header into the far top corner.
 
Things went from bad to worse for O’Brien’s charges when diminutive playmaker Rodrigo Mora showed great feet to cut inside from the left and reverse his powerful strike into the near bottom corner moments later, giving Collins no chance.
 
Looking to put the slow start to the second half behind them and take some of the shine off of the scoreline, Ireland continued to try to push forward. Half-time substitute Jaden Umeh showed great determination to whip in a cross from the right-hand side that Melia was unlucky to get on the end of.
 
But every time the hard-working visitors tried to build a head of steam, their illustrious hosts showed real quality and technical ability in retaining possession.  
 
Ireland have two games to go against both Germany and Croatia over the next six days.
 
Ireland: Joe Collins; James Roche, Luca Cailloce, Taylor McCarthy (Jaden Umeh 45), Kaylem Harnett; Niall McAndrew (Luke O’Donnell 66), Matthew Moore; Cathal O’Sullivan (Kyle Fitzgerald 66), Rory Finneran (Aaron Ochoa Moloney 80), Harry McGlinchey; Mason Melia (Michael Noonan 74).
 
Portugal: Diogo Ferreira; Duarte Soares, Rui Silva, Rafael Mota (Afonso Sousa 60), Martim Cunha; Rodrigo Mora, Eduardo Felicissimo (David Daiber 80), Joao Simoes; Geovany Quenda (Afonso Vieira 74), Cardoso Varela, Gabriel Silva (Francisco Silva 60).

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