Ireland progressed to the last eight of the UEFA Under-17 Championship on Wednesday, despite losing heavily to Germany in their final group game in Rijeka. The Boys in Green have Bosnia & Herzegovina to thank for their qualification, with their 1-0 win over Serbia in the other Group C game ensuring Ireland’s passage on the head-to-head rule.
Despite starting brightly against Germany, Ireland found themselves behind after just eight minutes when RB Leipzig’s Elias Abouchabaka applied the finishing touch to Germany’s first attack from close range.
The game slipped further out of Ireland’s grasp less than 10 minutes later when Germany captain Jann-Fiete Arp beat Brian Maher from the edge of the area. The Hamburg forward made it look easy, taking one touch before placing the ball low into the corner – well out of the St Patrick’s Athletic goalkeeper’s reach.
Though Colin O’Brien made some tactical alterations, putting Brighton forward Aaron Connolly into a more central position, Ireland struggled to recover and things only deteriorated when Manchester United starlet Lee O’Connor sent the ball beyond his own goalkeeper five minutes later.
Having acquired a formidable lead, the Germans began to play with greater confidence and completely swept the Irish aside in the second half. It took just five minutes after the re-start for them to bolster their goal tally. Arp added his second with a cool close-range finish after timing his run well to meet Abouchabaka’s lofted through-ball. The Hamburg starlet then wrapped up his second hat-trick of the tournament four minutes later with another goal from inside the box.
Germany compounded Ireland’s woes in the final 10 minutes when Noah Awuku scored his side’s sixth with a half-volley before substitute Eric Hottmann added a seventh by rounding the goalkeeper and rolling home.
The Irish players sunk to their knees at the sound of the final whistle, before being informed of Bosnia’s late winner which ensures Ireland’s qualification on head-to-head. They could now face either England or the Netherlands in the quarter-final.
Ireland U17: Maher; O’Connor (c) (Kilkenny, 54), Ledwidge, Doherty, Collins; Bolger, Roache (Thompson, 70), O’Farrell; Nolan, Idah, Connolly
Germany U17: Plogmann; Nitzl, Hackethal, Becker (Majetschak, 53), Boller, Awuku, Cetin, Arp (c), Abouchabaka (Hottman, 57), Mai (Ludewig, 66), Malone