05.09.2017 at 19:00 Dalga Stadium, Baku
1 - 3
Referee: Sandor Szabo
Mustafa Kemal Ozhitay,
Kieran O Hara
Askerov 20 mins
Jafarov 45+3 mins, 53 mins
Aliyev 52 mins,
Ryan Sweeney (77)
Manning on the double as Ireland continue winning start
The Republic of Ireland maintained their winning start to the UEFA U21 Championships Qualifying Round Group 5 with a 3-1 win over Azerbaijan at Dalga Stadium, Baku, this evening.
An impressive performance was capped by two first half goals from QPR’s Ryan Manning and a second half finish from his club-mate Reece Greco-Cox.
The Irish got off to a dream start when Ryan Manning scored with a low strike which the keeper spilled after good play on the left by Ronan Curtis in the ninth minute.
Unfortunately the Irish were caught cold when Azerbaijan equalised in the 12th minute when senior international Mahir Madatov ran from his own half, outran the Irish defence and slotted under the advancing Kieran O’Hara.
Madatov showed his threat once again in the 20th minute with a shot from 25 yards out which was well held by O’Hara.
The Azeris pushed to take control of the game and a long distance shot by Gismat Aliyev forced O’Hara to scamper back and tip the ball over his crossbar in the 22nd minute.
As the Irish began to adjust to the heat they regained control and took the lead once more in the 39th minute when brilliant play by Reece Greco-Cox down the right saw him carve out a great cross and Manning arrived on cue to head home.
Five minutes into the second half Grego-Cox steered the ball home from close range after keeper Mustafa Kemal Ozhitay spilled a low strike from a Manning free-kick.
The Azeris had a man sent off in the 62nd minute when Elnur Jafarov was booked for the second time for a reckless challenge on Danny Kane. Jafarov has been booked for simulation in the first half.
Manning produced a thumping effort that hit the back stanchion of the Azeri goal in the 75th minute as Ireland pressed to add to their tally.
Josh Cullen fired narrowly wide deep into injury-time after good hold up play by Joe Quigley and the final whistle blew moments later as the Irish secured an impressive three points.
They will meet Norway at Tallaght Stadium on October 5 and then host Israel four days later. Ireland beat Kosovo in their opening game in March. Speaking after the win, Noel King was pleased with what he saw.
“We got a performance and it was player driven, which is very important. It was a difficult situation to be in, particularly with so long spent travelling to get here and acclimatise. The players adapted to the situation - they bought into what we did here this week and really wanted to back up their result against Kosovo.
“We started very well and got an early goal but then you have the situation where they get an equaliser and have their spell on top and we had to dealt with that. We settled things down then scored a good goal through Ryan Manning again and then the players spoke at half-time about adding to that and maintaining control of the game.
“I felt the players were very professional in how they managed the game. They kept possession for long spells and I’m sure the stats were very high in terms of our possession and we managed the game really well.
“The two QPR boys did very well. Ryan’s work-rate was great. His work-rate was excellent, he was a constant threat and contributed to the defensive side of things really well. Reece put in a great shift, he covered a lot of ground and deserved his goal. He did very well to create Ryan’s second goal also.
“We had four lads make their competitive debut at this level. Declan Rice started and Liam Kinsella, Joe Quigley and Ryan Delaney all made a contribution when they came in.
“We have two games at home to Norway and Israel next month and we’ll look to add some more players to the squad but we won’t be subtracting any and hopefully they are all fit and are in good shape for those two games. We’ll prepare properly for those games and know we’ll get the support to hopefully continue our winning start.”
Republic of Ireland: Kieran O’Hara, Corey Whelan, Danny Kane (Ryan Delaney 90), Shaun Donnellan, Ryan Sweeney, Declan Rice, Josh Cullen, Harry Charsley (Liam Kinsella 92), Ryan Manning, Reece Greco-Cox (Joe Quigley 87), Ronan Curtis.
Azerbaijan: Mustafa Kemal Ozhitay, Sertan Tashgin, Vugar Hasanov (Ozan Can Koekcue 67), Bahlul Mustafazade, Serkan Baloglu, Alen Askerov, Gismat Aliyev, Elnur Jafarov, Mahir Madatov (Ilyas Safarzade 80), Alibey Mamedli (Ehtiram Shahverdiyev 46), Onur Albayrak.