Republic of Ireland 5
The Republic of Ireland Under-19s began their UEFA Under-19 European Championship Elite Round campaign with an outstanding 5-0 win over Romania in Krasnodar, Russia.
Two goals each from Jonathan Afolabi and Will Smallbone, along with a Romanian own-goal gave Tom Mohan’s side a valuable three points and a healthy goal difference, in a group where only one team qualifies for this summer’s Finals in Armenia.
Mohan’s side started the game fantastically, with both Afolabi and Smallbone finding the back of the new inside the opening 11-minutes.
From there it was all one-way traffic with the duo scoring again early in the second-half either side of an own-goal from Romanian winger Claudiu Petrila.
With 20-minutes left to go, Brian Maher saved a penalty from Romania’s Vladimir Screciu after Raoul Baicu was fouled in the box, to ensure Ireland finished the game with a clean sheet.
Speaking after the game, Mohan was delighted to get the win, and start the Elite Round in an emphatic manner.
"The team did very well today. We were clinical with our chances early on. It was a very mature performance from the team in both halves", Mohan revealed.
Romania weren't as easy opponents as the 5-0 scoreline suggests. They were very difficult to play against.
The Under-19s return to action on Saturday, with a match against Azerbaijan at 9am (Irish time), and Mohan is expecting a tough clash.
"We have to park our own game now and focus on Azerbaijan. It's a big game for us. We can build on today's performance, but there are areas to improve in."
Republic of Ireland: Brian Maher; Andy Lyons (Tom Gaston 84), Oisin McEntee, Jack James (Mark McGuinness 80), Kameron Ledwidge; Jason Knight, Will Smallbone (Richard O’Farrell 71), Aaron Bolger (capt); Ali Reghba (Luca Connell 71), Jonathan Afolabi, Will Ferry (Tyreik Wright 80)
Romania: Andrei Cristea; Andrei-Marius Rus (Antonio Sefer 32), Vladimir Screciu, Marco Ehmann, Sorin Serban (Rares Ispas 58); Raoul Baicu (Ovidiu Horsia 79), Radu Chiriac, Antonio Manolache (capt) (Alexandru Tirlea 32), Claudiu Petrila; Valentin Mihăilă, Leonardo Mitruscsak (Andrei Banyoi 58)
Referee: Mads-Kristoffer Kristoffersen (DEN)