02.03.2007 at 12:00 Estadios de Machico
Referee: P Paraty (Portugal)
The Republic of Ireland’s under-21 side’s lost a game in the Madeira Invitational Tournament for the first time in their history in Machico yesterday.
Winners of this competition in 2004 and again last year, Don Givens’s side saw that proud record finally ended in oppressive heat against an impressive Portuguese side.
A wonder goal by Sporting Lisbon midfielder Celestino in the 39th minute ultimately decided the tie and gave his side the trophy.
Celestino’s stunning strike was so well struck that it flew into the top corner with little Irish keeper James Russell could do to keep it out.
Portugal travel to the World Youth Championships in Canada this summer and will be a handful for anybody.
They came close to breaking the deadlock in the 26th minute when skipper Paulo Renato hit the crossbar after Russell had parried a header by Feliciano Condesso.
Kieran Murphy came closest to equalising in the 67th minute but he headed narrowly over from a right wing cross by James Simmonds.
Ireland seemed to get little breaks on the day and had two legitimate penalty claims dismissed.
Ross Gaynor was taken down by Mano as he prepared to shoot in the 61st minute but got no spot-kick.
Then David Bracken experienced the same fate in the 85th minute when he cut inside a defender and only had the keeper to beat.
"We battled hard but sometimes you have to accept that the better team wins and that was the case this time," said manager Don Givens.
"The goal was a special one and there is nothing you can do to stop that sort of strike.
"We have had lots of positives this week. It was disappointing not to at least clinch a draw, which we might have deserved for the effort along."
Ireland’s next fixture at this level is a meeting with Holland in Venlo on March 27.
Players born after January 1, 1984, will be eligible to play in that tie as the Dutch are preparing for the UEFA Under-21 Championships that they host this summer.
Portugal – Patricio; Mano, Correia, Carrico, Renato, Pele, Condesso, Celestino, Ribeiro, Zequinha, Guedes. Subs – Caiado for Ribeiro 45 mins; Pinheiro for Renato 45; Coelho for Condesso 63; Pedro for Guedes 70; Zezinando for Zequinha 81.
Republic of Ireland – Russell (Chelsea); O’Cearuill (Arsenal), Powell (Bohemians), Murphy (MK Dons), O’Halloran (Aston Villa), Simmonds (Chelsea), Chambers (Shelbourne), Kelly (Bohemians), Morris (Scunthorpe), O’Brien (Celtic), Gaynor (Millwall). Subs – Hayes (Reading) for Kelly 54; Curran (Sligo Rovers) for O’Cearuill 70; Bracken (Glenavon) for Gaynor 80.
The Republic of Irelands Under-21 side saw their unbeaten record in the Madeira Invitational Tournament end with a 1-0 defeat by Portugal in Machico.
This is the first time the Irish have lost a game in three visits to the island nation - they won the competition in 2004 and were also victorious last year.
But Don Givens side were undone on an extremely hot day against a Portuguese side preparing for the World Youth Championships in Canada this summer.
Sporting Lisbon midfielder Celestino decided the game in the 39th minute with a strike which flew into the top corner from 30 yards out.
Ireland goalkeeper James Russell was powerless to keep that blast out but he was not overly tested for the rest of the game.
Portugal should have taken the lead in the 26th minute when Russell parried a header by Feliciano Condesso and skipper Paulo Renato hit the crossbar from the rebound.
Millwall striker Ross Gaynor looked to have won a penalty for the Irish in the 61st minute when he was taken down by Mano as he prepared to shoot - but his appeal was rejected.
MK Dons defender Kieran Murphy, who scored the winner against Slovakia on Tuesday, headed just over from a right wing cross by James Simmonds in the 67th minute.
With five minutes left on the clock, substitute David Bracken was also denied a penalty after he cut inside Nuno Coelho and appeared to be impeded.
Sporting Lisbon goalkeeper Rui Patricio made a string of important catches from Irish crosses in the dying minutes to keep his third clean sheet of the week.
The Irish will next meet Holland in a friendly clash in Venlo on March 27.
Unlike the Madeira competition, when players had to be born in 1987 or younger, that Dutch game will be for players born after January 1, 1984.
The Dutch are preparing for the UEFA Under-21 Championships that they will be hosting this summer so Givens is likely to completely change his squad for that fixture.