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Republic of Ireland Men’s Under-17s


A second-half Rocco Vata strike earned Ireland Men’s Under-17s an excellent 1-0 victory against Belgium in Spain today in the second of a friendly doubleheader between the sides.

Vata finished off a well rehearsed team move in the 79th minute for what proved to be the winner – his third international goal of the season.

The win follows Thursday’s 2-2 draw with Belgium and is the perfect preparation for Colin O’Brien’s team ahead of next month’s UEFA Under-17 European Championship Elite Round qualifiers where they face Portugal, Finland and Bulgaria.

O’Brien made nine changes to the line-up that started against Belgium earlier in the week with only captain Sam Curtis and Franco Umeh retaining their places in the Starting XI.
 
It was a cautious opening to the game with Ireland retaining possession well and limiting Belgium’s control of the game.
 
But it was the Red Devils who almost took the lead in the 27th minute. A defence splitting pass put Belgium clear but Fintan Doherty, who was making his second Ireland appearance, produced an excellent save to keep the scores level.
 
In the 38th minute St. Patrick’s Athletic’s Adam Murphy, appearing for Ireland for the first time since February 2020, managed to break free of the Belgian back-line but was unable to find a way past goalkeeper Jannes Van Hof who stood tall and denied Ireland.
 
At the break Ivan Savshak and James McManus were introduced for Sean Mackey and Senan Mullen.

Murphy was involved again 11 minutes in the second half when he whipped in a cross from the right for Umeh whose header couldn’t find the target and went just over the bar.

On the hour mark Justin Ferizaj, Vata and Mark O’Mahony were introduced for Daniel Negry-Mcgrath, Murphy and Caden McLoughlin as Ireland pushed for a winner.

And O’Mahony almost had an immediate impact when his fierce strike from 22-yards out was tipped onto the bar by Van Hof. Seconds after that attempt, Doherty was in action at the other end, again denying Belgium with his feet.

But the breakthrough came in the 79th minute thanks to Vata. The Celtic playmaker finished off a well rehearsed free-kick routine to put Ireland 1-0 in front.

Ireland survived a late scare when Stanis Idumbo Muzambo headed over from six-yards-out. Luke O’Brien and Darius Lipsuic were brought on for Gideon Tetteh and Umeh as Ireland saw out the game for an impressive win out in Spain.
 
Republic of Ireland: Doherty; Curtis (C), Dan McHale, Sean Mackey (Ivan Savshak, 45), Sean McHale; Negry-McGrath (Ferizaj, 60), Mullen (McManus, 45), Murphy (Vata, 60); Umeh (O’Brien, 82), Tetteh (Lipsiuc, 76), McLoughlin (O’Mahony, 60)
 
Belgium: Van Hof; Corbanie, Itangishaka, Monticelli (C), Burlet, Asselmans, Delperdange, Geerts, Soelle Soelle, Sishuba, Adedeji Sternberg
 
Substitutions: Delvaux, Noubi Ngnokam, Digberekou, Sturbaut, Vermeeren, Canak, Mawete Kinsiona, Fofana, Idumbo Muzambo
 International Friendly Results 
 
Thursday, February 10 | Ireland MU17 2-2 Belgium MU17, Dama de Noche Football Pitches, Marbella, SpainSaturday, February 12 | Ireland MU17 1-0 Belgium MU17, Dama de Noche Football Pitches, Marbella, Spain

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