Republic of Ireland 2-0 Luxembourg

A goal in each half from JJ Kayode and Conor Coventry earned the Republic of Ireland a crucial 2-0 win against Luxembourg in their European Under-21 Championship qualifier at Tallaght Stadium.

The two sides drew 1-1 in Dudelange last month when Colm Whelan's goal was cancelled out by a late Dylan Kuete penalty, but Jim Crawford's side had no issues closing out the win this evening.

Kayode poked home the opener in the 18th minute following a sweeping move, and Coventry effectively killed off the visitors' challenge 19 minutes into the second half when he slotted a penalty past Lucas Fox.

The hosts should have added more goals, with substitute Conor Noss twice going close, but they never looked in danger of relinquishing their lead in a controlled second-half display.

Ireland are now third in Group F on seven points, two behind Italy and three off Sweden with a game in hand.

They next face Montenegro on Tuesday night and are likely to field a massively changed side because Montenegro is currently on the UK and Germany’s red list regarding Covid-19 quarantine restrictions, meaning only Ireland's home-based players will be able to travel.

Montenegro will come off the UK's red list at 4am on Monday, but the Irish squad are due to depart for the game on Saturday.

Crawford expects to know exactly who can travel by midday tomorrow.

Ireland had plenty of possession inside the first 15 minutes but failed to stretch a stubborn and organised Luxembourg.

In a pedestrian opening, the home team first really threatened when Joel Bagan - a willing outlet all evening - skipped into the box and fed Kayode, who was let down by a bad first touch.

Moments later a lovely little Ross Tierney flick almost set up the marauding Coventry but he couldn't quite get hos toe on it ahead of a recovering defender.

On 18 minutes, the breakthrough came. Coventry switched play with a great ball to the impressive Tyreike Wright on the left. He drove at his man and lashed in a wicked cross that Kayode poked home.

It was just what Ireland would have wanted but Luxembourg did not divert from their game plan. The visitors continued to dig their heels in and bide their time for an opportunity. In the 29th minute, they got one.

Loris Bernardy dropped in a wicked free-kick from the right towards the unmarked Irvin Latic, who flashed a header wide.

Although Ireland continued to own the ball, they were guilty of coughing up cheap frees as frustration crept in. Another dangerous Bernardy delivery led to some panic in the home box just before the break that was defused by Brian Maher confidently collecting a dropping ball.

It was 1-0 at the break but the Irish re-emerged for the second half with much more intensity.

Bagan's cross the left was deflected beyond Kayode and into the path of UCD's excellent debutant Liam Kerrigan on the far post. He skied his effort from a tight angle.

Wright and Bagan linked up well throughout but it was Kerrigan who proved key to the second goal.

He did superbly well to steam into the box from deep, getting chopped down by a lunging Franz Sinner tackle. Luxembourg were furious, pointing to what looked like a foul on Dylan Kuete in the build-up but the referee waved their protests away.

Coventry stepped up to clip a cool penalty straight down the middle.

From there, Luxembourg's race was run. Ireland - through the quality midfield pairing of Coventry and Gavin Kilkenny - stayed in control and should have added more.

Noss almost netted just seconds after coming off the bench when he pounced on some defensive uncertainty but failed to force his effort past keeper Lucas Fox.

In injury time he was is clean through after Coventry hounded a defender into making a bad backpass, only for Noss's strike to be deflected away by Fox's legs.

Before that Brian Maher had to be alert in the Ireland goal to snuff out a lightning Luxembourg break but overall this was a deserved and relatively comfortable win for the Boys in Green who will expect a much sterner test on Tuesday, especially given the uniquely challenging circumstances.

"We're still waiting on information back from the UK clubs on who can come," Crawford told RTÉ Sport afterwards. "We'll just see what develops."

Republic of Ireland: Maher; O'Connor, O’Brien, McGuinness, Bagan; Coventry, Kilkenny (Devoy 86), Tierney (Noss 70); Kayode (Ferguson 70), Kerrigan (Gilbert 86), Wright (Moran 92).

Luxembourg: Fox; Bernardy (Torres 65), D’Anzico, Osmanovic, Sinner (Monteiro De Oliveira 76), Schmit; Olesen, Latic, Sacras (Bernard 76); Rossier (Turping 65), Kuete (Erkus 90).

Referee: Besfort Kasumi (Kosovo).