The Republic of Ireland have qualified for the elite phase of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifiers after defeating Wales 2-0 at the Nantporth Stadium in Bangor.
Ireland made it two wins out of two in Group 4 thanks to late goals from Justin Ferizaj and substitute Franco Umeh and have qualified with one game to spare.
Ireland came into this game high on confidence following their impressive victory on the opening night of the campaign on Wednesday when a Mark O'Mahony hat-trick, along with goals from Tommy Lonergan, Nathan Fraser, and Sean Grehan, gave Tom Mohan’s squad a well-deserved 6-0 victory over Gibraltar.
But this was always going to be a much tougher challenge for the Boys in Green as the Welsh were looking to bounce back from their 0-0 draw with Hungary.
So it proved. The first half was a tight and tense affair although O’Mahony did threaten to continue his goal-scoring exploits in the sixth minute but he couldn’t get a good enough connection on a cross to the back post.
Ireland were fortunate not to fall behind in the 10th minute as a clever pass from Wales midfielder Harry Jewitt White released Cameron Congreve inside the penalty area but his well-controlled volley struck the near post.
The second 45 continued in a similar manner to the first as genuine goal scoring opportunities were hard to come by for both teams.
Just when it looked like Ireland would settle for what would have been a good point against the hosts, they edged in front in the 87th minute when Ferizaj stabbed a hopeful cross from the right flank into the bottom left corner.
And the visitors sealed a huge win deep into injury time when sub Franco Umeh raced clear and emphatically drilled the ball into that same corner.
Next up for the Republic of Ireland is their final game against Hungary on Tuesday evening, also in Bangor, where a draw will guarantee first place in the group.
Wales: Hollingshead; Bell, Ludvigsen, Hanks, Williams; Colwill, Jewitt White (Purcell 74), Cotterill (Bennett 74), Lloyd (Murphy Bennett 91); Congreve, Crole (Wigley 74).
Republic of Ireland: Byrne; Abankwah, Grehan, Murphy; Curtis, Maher (Gallagher ht), McJannet, Ferizaj, Clarke (Zefi 63); Fraser (Umeh ht), O’Mahony (Vata 76).
Referee: Vitālijs Spasjoņņikovs (Latvia).