Under-17 UEFA Championship First Phase Qualifiers
Bulgaria 1-2 Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland got their Under-17 UEFA Championship qualifying campaign off to a flyer on Sunday when they defeated mini-group hosts Bulgaria in the opening first phase qualifier.
Bulgaria thought they had snatched a point in Dobrich when Nedelev's superb free-kick found the net on the stroke of full-time to cancel out Frankie Sutherland's first-half opener but there was still time for more late drama.
Deep into stoppage-time, Ireland striker Daniel Purdy latched onto a long-throw and stroked the ball past Bulgaria goalkeeper Konov into the net for the winner.
The result leaves Ireland level with Sweden at the top of Group Six with three points apiece after the opening day's matches. Sweden's 2-0 victory over Latvia in the group game played earlier in the day means they can confirm their place in the Elite phase should they overcome Bulgaria on Tuesday. Ireland can also clinch one of the two automatic qualifying berths by beating Latvia on the same day.
Bulgaria had the first notable chance of the game through Kozhuharov on 12 minutes when he availed of some defensive hesitancy in the Ireland backline and shot just over Sean McDermott's crossbar.
Eight minutes later, Ireland suffered a blow when left-back Kevin Knight was forced to go off injured, to be replaced by Derrick Williams of Aston Villa.
Ireland went ahead on 37 minutes through a set-piece. George Smith won a free-kick on the left, and from Brian McGroary's delivery, midfielder Carl McHugh got a header on goal which was stopped by Konov. The rebound fell kindly to Frankie Sunderland who pounced to score from close range.
Derrick Williams nearly added a second goal for Ireland in the last action of the first half as his drive from McGroary's corner flew narrowly over the crossbar.
There weren't many chances for either side in the second half until Bulgaria grabbed the late equaliser. Sean McGinty conceded a free-kick 25 yards from goal and Nedelev made no mistake.
Just as it appeared the game would end level, Ireland got one more chance three minutes into added time when Purdy was left in space, allowing the West Ham United striker to pinch Ireland a vital win.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Sean McDermott (Arsenal); Michael Barker (Belvedere), Richard Bryan (Aston Villa), Sean McGinty (Manchester United), Kevin Knight (Leicester City); Brian McGroary (Wolves), Shane Byrne (Leicester City), Carl McHugh (Reading), Frankie Sutherland (QPR); George Smith (Southend United), Daniel Purdy (West Ham United).
Substitutions: Derrick Williams (Aston Villa) for Knight (29 mins), Ben Glasgow (Arsenal) for McGroary (58 mins), Neil Yadolahi (St. Kevin's Boys) for Baker (70 mins).
Under-17 UEFA Championship first phase qualifiers:
Sunday, September 27
Republic of Ireland 2-1 Bulgaria
Sweden 2-0 Latvia
Tuesday, September 29 (1pm)
Republic of Ireland v Latvia, Albena Stadium
Sweden v Bulgaria
Friday, October 2nd (3pm)
Republic of Ireland v Sweden, Albena Stadium
Bulgaria v Latvia.