The Republic of Ireland Under-19 side finished their UEFA Championships first qualifying round campaign with an impressive 2-2 draw with Germany in Luxembourg.
Both sides had already secured qualification for the Elite Qualifying Round on but Paul Doolin’s side ensured they went through unbeaten as they finished level on seven points with the Germans.
Germany had led 2-0 at the break but Irish substitutes Sam Byrne and Ryan Coombes found the net after the break with two goals in three minutes to level it up.
The Germans signalled their intent as early as the fourth minute when striker Sebastian Kerk’s curling shot clipped the outside of the Irish post. Kerk then put Germany in front in the tenth minute when his low left-footed shot beat Ian Lawlor in the Irish goal following a quick passing move down the left side of the pitch which saw a successions of passes eventually find Kerk who slotted home expertly.
Following a number of German attacks Samed Yesil eventually extended Germany’s lead in the 28th minute when he latched onto a looping cross to poke the ball home past Lawlor who could do nothing about the instinctive finish.
Germany closed the half in impressive fashion, drawing a good save from Lawlor two minutes before the break to go in with a two goal lead.
Ireland brought Sam Byrne on at half-time and upon the resumption Doolin’s side began to see much more of the ball and began to dominate the Germans throughout the pitch. This paid dividends in the 58th minute when substitute Byrne pulled one back for Ireland having cut in from the left wing to expertly curl his shot under the German goalkeeper Odisseas Vlachodimos.
Within three minutes the Irish comeback was complete when another substitute, Ryan Coombes, latched onto the end of an excellent Michael Drennan knock-down to bury his half-volley into the back of the German net from a tight angle having only been on the pitch for two minutes.
Germany almost responded immediately. However, Lawlor in the Irish goal produced a wonderful save to deny Yesil at close range, and then some heroic defending saw Steven Smith clear the follow up off the line and Brandon Miele then did well to block the second rebound which followed.
Ireland continued to press the Germans and force the game for the remaining 30 minutes, however Germany still posed a dangerous threat to the Irish goal and twice struck the Irish crossbar in the remaining period.
Ireland managed to weather the remaining attacks and were good value for their hard fought and well deserved draw.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Ian Lawlor, Noe Baba, Pierce Sweeney, Steven Smith, Shane Griffin, Luke Gallagher, Bradley Garmston (Sam Byrne 46), Conor Wilkinson (Ryan Coombes 58), Brandon Miele (Kealan Dillon 81), Kieran Sadlier, Michael Drennan.
GERMANY: Vlachodimos, Lenz, Andrich, Yalcin, Ginter, Pledl, Yesil, Kerk (Çeçen 54), Gerhardt, Schnellhardt, Kohr.