UEFA Under-17 Elite Stage qualifier
Republic of Ireland 1-2 Greece
Gunning 49; Pantidos 37, Vellios 70
The Republic of Ireland Under-17 side suffered a major dent in their quest to reach this summer’s UEFA finals when they were defeated in their second Elite stage qualifier tonight against Greece in Athlone.
Victory for Ireland would have put qualification in their own hands heading into Tuesday’s final group match against Portugal at Terryland Park. Instead, as well having to overcome the Portuguese, Ireland are relying on Germany beating Greece in the other group game to be played simultaneously in Athlone.
Pantidos broke the deadlock for Greece with a powerful header after connecting with a free-kick floated into the penalty area three minutes before half-time.
Ireland took encouragement from the amount of opportunities they produced in the opening 40 minutes.
Paul Murphy should have had them ahead on 19 minutes when Greg Cunningham picked him out with a quickly taken free-kick but the Ipswich Town man blasted the shot over the crossbar.
Gavin Gunning squared the game up for Ireland but a winner by Vellios ten minutes from full-time settled the contest in Athlone.
The Blackburn Rovers defender brought Ireland level on 49 minutes after he glanced a header past the goalkeeper from a corner delivered by half-time substitute Robert Brady.
Ireland created numerous more chances to seal the game, Conor Hourihane and Aaron Doran having the best of them, but suffered a sucker-punch ten minutes from the end when Vellios pounced to convert from close-range after Irish ‘keeper Ger Hanley had brilliantly stopped an initial effort by Karelis.
IRELAND: Hanley (Salthill Devon), Dunleavy (Wolves), Ormsby (Crumlin), Gunning (Blackburn), Connolly (Wolves), Morrissey (Ringmahon), Doran (Blackburn), Clifford (Chelsea), Hourihane (Sunderland), Murphy (Ipswich), Cunningham (Manchester City).
Subs: Brady (Manchester United) for Murphy (half-time), Darragh Satelle (Crumlin) for Doran (68 mins)
GREECE: Spyridon Papathanasiou, Konstantinos Kritikos, Georgios Machlelis, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Niklaos Pantidos, Xenofon Fetsis (Alexandros Veletis 76), Vasileios Pallas (Apostolos Vellios 59), Panagiotis Tachtsidis, Aristeidis Soiledis, Konstantinos Samaropoulos, Nikolaos Karelis