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14th Nov 2019

Elbouzedi strike the difference as u21s secure away win

Rob O'Hanrahan

Top of Group 1.

The Irish u21 side continued their impressive Euro 2021 Qualifier campaign with a hard-earned win over Armenia away from home this Thursday lunchtime. It was a much-changed side going into the game, with injuries to the likes of Caoimhín Kelleher, suspensions for Jayson Molumby and Lee O’Connor and the Senior call-ups for Aaron Connolly and Troy Parrott all weakening one of the most exciting Irish squads in recent memory.

Ireland dominated from the off, but the first half was a tale of chances missed, with Adam Idah, Jason Knight and Nathan Collins all spurning opportunities to put the young side in front.

The breakthrough came early in the second half, a cross from the right wing from the ever-lively Idah missed everyone on the way through, and Zack Elbouzedi had the time to take a touch, compose himself and finish comprehensively.

What seemed to be becoming a routine 3 points took a turn in the 77th minute. Irish captain Dara O’Shea misjudged a routine Armenian through ball, a tangle of legs on the edge of the box saw him receive his marching orders and Ireland were forced to survive the final 17 minutes with just 10 men. Gavin Bazanu was forced to bravely save a wayward cross as it looped over his head, taking a crack from the post for his troubles in what was a solid performance from the 17 year-old Manchester City man on his u21 debut.

Ireland now sit top of Group 1 on 13 points, 4 ahead of Iceland (who have played 2 games less) and 6 ahead of Italy (who have played 3 games less). That being said, those two teams face each other later today, meaning there will be some breathing space for Kenny’s side ahead of Tuesday’s crunch game at home against Sweden.

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