Kosovo U21s 1-1 Republic of Ireland U21s

The Republic of Ireland Under 21s escaped with a crucial European Championship qualification point against Kosovo thanks to a late leveller from ex-Derry City attacker Ronan Curtis.

Florjan Smakiqi had put the hosts ahead in the 65th minute, steering Larim Kastrati’s cross past Kieran O’Hara.

It looked like Noel King's men would suffer a damaging defeat after that in what was their game in hand on Group Five leaders Germany, who come to Dublin on Tuesday.

But Curtis stepped up to keep the campaign alive.

With eight minutes to go, the Portsmouth striker gathered possession on the left, dropped the shoulder and fizzed home a low effort to get the Boys in Green out of Mitrovica with a point.

They now face the Germans in Tallaght with two points separating the sides. They meet again in October, four days after Ireland take on Israel.

The group winners qualify for the finals in Italy and San Marino next summer with the runners-up going into the play-offs so it's still all to play for. 

King was also without several key men tonight, including QPR winger Olamide Shodipo, whose goal secured a 1-0 victory over Kosovo in the opening round in March last year.

"We can be frustrated after the game," the manager said afterwards.

"I thought the work-rate and the spirit of the players was fantastic, and deserved to get something out of the game. But, if you're looking at the chances at the end, we should have secured all three points. 

"It was a fantastic goal from Ronan, he was brilliant throughout the game and I'm delighted for him to get his goal. Kosovo are a really good team and they've taken points off Germany here so it's a positive result. We go into Tuesday's game against Germany with qualification still in our hands."

Republic of Ireland: K O'Hara (Macclesfield Town); Danny Kane (AFC Fylde), R Sweeney (Mansfield United), Connor Shaughnessy (Leeds United), C Whelan (Crewe Alexandra); J Cullen (Charlton Athletic), Liam Kinsella (Walsall); H Charsley (Everton), R Manning (Rotherham United), Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth); Reece Grego-Cox (Crawley Town).

Subs: J Mulraney (Hearts) for Kane (78), Ronan Hale (Derry City) for Manning (78).

Referee: Petr Ardeleanu (CZE).