UEFA U19 CHAMPIONSHIP ELITE QUALIFIER
Republic of Ireland 0 – 1 Germany
Germany’s slender victory over Ireland at Dalymount Park hands them the initiative in the UEFA Elite Group One as the final series of matches looms on Saturday.
The Germans finished Wednesday's game with only nine men after seeing two of their key players dismissed in the second half but they withstood a late onslaught to hold out for a vital win which dislodged Ireland from the top of the table.
A win for Ireland at Dalymount Park would have seen them progress to the European Championship finals in Austria this July with a game to spare but instead that reverse ensures the destiny of the group is no longer in their own hands.
Ireland must defeat Hungary in the final game at United Park in Drogheda this Saturday and hope that the bottom side in the four-nation group, Bulgaria, draw or win against Germany in their clash at Belfield.
There also remains the possibility that Hungary could conclude the group on top in the event they overcome Ireland, coupled with a Bulgarian win at UCD’s home ground. Both games will kick-off simultaneously at 7pm and only the team finishing top of the group after their three matches goes forth to the European Championship Finals in Austria from 16-27 July.
The decision of the referee to penalise Irish defender Simon Madden for an apparent trip on Sebatstian Tyral in the lead-up to the solitary goal of the game was hotly disputed at the time by the Irish players. Manager Sean McCaffrey was also livid with the penalty-kick award in his post-match reaction after watching a television replay of the incident.
Ireland goalkeeper Stephen Henderson guessed the correct way, diving to his right, for the spot-kick but the effort by Hamburg striker Anis Ben-Hatira packed too much power and accuracy to stop the ball nestling into the corner.
Ireland manager Sean McCaffrey restored Keith Treacy to the starting line-up after resting him for Monday’s 3-0 victory over Bulgaria and he had a huge influence on proceedings in the opening 45 minutes.
The Blackburn Rovers signified his intentions from the off and after only 12 minutes he cut inside his marker before unleashing a stinging shot that German goalkeeper Martin Maennel did well to gather.
While much was expected from Ireland’s strike-force of Anthony Stokes and hat-trick hero Adam Rooney on the back of their devastating showing on Monday against Bulgaria, it was Treacy’s wizardry that had the German defence reeling. One of numerous mazy dribbles on 26 minutes almost led to Ireland having the chance to restore parity from the penalty-spot.
He left two German defenders trailing in his wake on the left channel but a third opponent, Alexander Eberlein, bundled Ireland’s playmaker over in the box yet a claim for the spot-kick was turned down by the Italian referee.
Germany opened up the Irish rearguard seven minutes before half-time with a clever exchange of passes down the inside-right area of the pitch.
Sidney Sam fed Ben-Hatira with a pass into the penalty but from his cut-back, Daniel Brosinski scuffed a volley from six yards out wide of the target.
Ireland responded well to the set-back of losing an early goal and went close to equalising with good strikes by Anthony Stokes and Treacy before the break.
Shane Lowry also conjured an opening to level up the match on the half hour mark when the ball fell to him on the edge of the box from a Treacy corner but the Aston Villa man’s rifling shot struck the post.
With the Irish attacking duo of Stokes and Rooney looking lively up front and Treacy providing quality crosses into the penalty area, Sean McCaffrey’s side were poised to press for a goal in the second half.
But their best-laid plans were hindered by an injury sustained by Treacy from one of the many heavy tackles shipped by the youngster in the opening half. He didn’t appear for the second half due to an ankle complaint and substitute Cillian Sheridan of Celtic replaced him up front for the second half, with Rooney redeployed on the right flank.
Sheridan made his physical presence evident upon his introduction. German defender Alexander Eberlein received a straight red card in the 54th minute when he hauled down the Cavan native as he barged free on goal. The referee deemed that the Germany captain committed a professional foul and ordered him off.
Ireland began to stretch the Germans as the second half wore, utilising their numerical advantage by involving Alan Judge more on the left wing.
Anthony Stokes, Alan Power and Judge were all presented with opportunities of equalising for Ireland in the latter stages.
Sunderland striker Anthony Stokes thought he was about to earn Ireland a crucial point by squaring the match three minutes from ful-time after he was put through on goal from a deft pass by substitute Aidan Downes.
The shot from 16 yards by the Ireland senior International was firm and incisive but ‘keeper Martin Maennel got down low to his left to stop the goal-bound strike. The custodian deservedly collected the man of the match award for his exertions on the night.
The match ended on a sour note when, following the issuing of a second yellow card and the resultant dismissal of match-winner Ben-Hatira in stoppage time, players from both sides had to be separated by their managers at the final whistle as tempers flared.
Ireland boss manager Sean McCaffrey was disappointed with the nature of the result, saying afterwards: “We had 70% of the possession and fully deserved to win the game. It was never a penalty for their goal but the positive thing to take out of this is that we can still qualify for the finals.
“I am confident that we can beat Hungary at United Park on Saturday. However, the control of the group is now with Germany and we need Bulgaria to give them a decent test on Saturday.”
McCaffrey concluded: “I said before this group started that none of the four teams would take nine points from three matches. This group is far from over and there’s still a few twists and turns left to go before the end of Saturday’s matches.”
IRELAND: Stephen Henderson (Aston Villa), Simon Madden (Leeds United), Shane Lowry (Aston Villa), Michael Spillane (Norwich City), Eddie Nolan (Blackburn Rovers) - captain, Alan Judge (Blackburn Rovers), James Ryan (Liverpool), Alan Power (Nottingham Forest), Robert Bayly (Leeds United), Anthony Stokes (Sunderland), Keith Treacy (Blackburn Rovers), Adam Rooney (Stoke City).
SUBS: Cillian Sheridan (Celtic) for Keith Treacy (46 mins), Matthew Cassidy (Bolton Wanderers) for Ryan (75 mins), Aidan Downes (Everton) for Rooney (81 mins).
GERMANY: Mannel, Boateng, Feik, Howedes, Eberlein, Brosinski (Schmiedebach 57 mins), Konrad, Sam (Kruse 46 mins), Tyrala (Falkenberg 70 mins), Ben-Hatira, Sauter.
Referee: Paola Tagliavento (Italy)
UEFA U19 Championship Elite Qualification Results and Fixtures:
Second, Elite qualifying phase:
Monday 14/05/07: Hungary 0 - 0 Germany, The Carlisle Grounds Bray 2.30 p.m
Republic of Ireland 3 - 0 Bulgaria, United Park Drogheda 7.00 p.m.
Today: 16/05/07: Hungary 1 - 1 Bulgaria, Belfield Park 2.30 p.m.
Germany 1 - 0 Republic of Ireland, Dalymount Park 7.00 p.m.
Saturday, 19/05/07: Republic of Ireland v Hungary, United Park Drogheda 7.00 p.m. Bulgaria v Germany, Belfield Park 7.00 p.m.
Republic of Ireland manager Sean McCaffrey knows his side need a favour from Bulgaria on Saturday if they are to qualify for the UEFA European Under-19 Championship after losing 1-0 to nine-man Germany tonight.
Ben Hatira winner
Ireland, the mini-tournament hosts, could have progressed to the finals in Austria with a match to spare had they won at Dalymount Park, but now need Germany to slip up after Anis Ben-Hatira scored the only goal of this Group 1 encounter from the penalty spot in the 17th minute. The spot-kick was awarded after full-back Simon Madden felled Sebastian Tyrala in the area.
Having been restored to the team after sitting out Monday's opening 3-0 defeat of Bulgaria, Keith Treacy was an impressive performer in a first half in which he created chances for Anthony Stokes and Adam Rooney as well as going close himself. However, the winger picked up an injury which prevented him from appearing after the break and Ireland lacked his cutting edge as they failed to equalise despite Germany being reduced to ten men following dismissals for Alexander Eberlein and Ben-Hatira.
McCaffrey told fai.ie: "We had 70 per cent of the possession and deserved to win the game. I'd be confident that we can beat Hungary at United Park on Saturday. However, the control of the group is now with Germany and we need Bulgaria to give them a decent test on Saturday."