Will Smallbone scored for the third time in two matches as the Republic of Ireland pursued their dream of reaching the European Under-21 Championship final for the first time.
As senior boss Stephen Kenny and team watched from the stand at Talagt Stadium, Ireland enjoyed an experimental start in both halves before a 3-1 win over Montenegro by Smalmont’s opener and Liam Kerrigan and Tyrik Wright in the second half.
As a result, Sweden will have to beat Group F leaders Italy on Thursday night to take the Republic to the top two. They will meet the Italians one point better next Tuesday night after playing a few games at Ascoli.
Ireland were under pressure from the start as striker Nikola Cristovic created problems.
However, the hosts gradually entered the game, creating confusion between Borussia Monchengladbach’s Connor Nose goalkeeper Nicola Ivesic and defender Anto Bobby, who created a panic in his 29th minute when he broke a pass into the box from the right.
Nose was forced to make a save from Ivesic in the 38th minute after meeting Smalbone’s corner, but four minutes before half time Southampton midfielder JJ Coyode controlled the pass chest and smashed the deadlock before hitting the left foot into the keeper and inside. Extensive post.
Crawford’s players were under pressure again
Semolbone’s free kick was headed in by center-back Airan Kashin, who controlled Kerrigan before firing from close range.
Substitute Ivan Ferguson beat Wright 3-0 with 23 minutes left in the game.
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