(Ireland lose 3-1 on penalties AET)
IRELAND'S hopes of making history and qualifying for next summer’s U21 European Championships ended in a penalty shoot-out defeat to Israel in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night.
After last week’s 1-1 draw in Tallaght Stadium, a stalemate was played out over 120 minutes and in the shoot-out; Israel progressed thanks to Daniel Peretz, who saved three penalties.
Tyreik Wright, Evan Ferguson, and Dawson Devoy all missed while Conor Coventry scored Ireland’s only converted spot kick.
Everything about this game was filled with tension, from the build-up to the passages of play.
The opening twenty minutes did not feature one shot on target, but a handful of attempts from two teams desperate not to lose, rather than pushing for the win.
Ireland played a passing game, which saw Brian Maher come out and spray balls to the energetic back three.
The only chances they could fathom came through Coventry, who launched a long ball into the area from the half-way line.
This was intended for Aaron Connolly who couldn’t control and the Israeli defence easily won back possession.
Israel had a handful of attempts but none of these threatened by Irish defence.
Their best chance came from a Oscar Gloukh free-kick, as he put the ball straight onto the penalty spot.
Joe Redmond knocked this clear for Ireland with a textbook defensive header.
Other opportunities included Ido Shahar’s driven shot, and this was firmly blocked by Coventry.
The first shot on target was in the 31st, and this came from Idan Gorno’s boot.
The forward sprinted forward, beat Eiran Cashin, and aimed for the bottom right corner.
Maher read this perfectly and dived low to deny Israel.
Ireland were reluctant to push up into the Israeli half. Their best route to goal looked to be a Will Smallbone set-piece.
He put one ball in, in the final seconds of the first half, and this was headed back towards goal. Peretz got their first and the Israeli goalkeeper caught this with ease.
The team had better luck after the break, as Ross Tierney won a corner.
Smallbone’s ball dropped onto the penalty spot and this was headed away by the Israeli defence.
Connolly got into a good position moments later, and he cut inside before firing narrowly wide of the target.
The Israelis shrugged off this Irish insurgence and they dominated the second half in Tel Aviv.
They had a lot of the ball, but they failed to really test Maher. The closest they went to scoring was through Oscar Gloukh, who cut inside and put the ball across the face of goal.
It was a prolonged spell that came to an abrupt end when Roi Herman went down injured in the 72nd minute.
Ireland used the restart to flood Israel in the final third, but they failed to test Peretz with this spell in possession.
Ross Tierney nearly unlocked Israel with a long ball into the box, but Connolly flicked this wide.
Another opening saw Andy Lyons fire over from just inside the area. Smallbone also sent the ball to Finn Azaz’s feet and his shot was stopped by Peretz’s right hand.
In extra-time, Ireland sat back and a disciplined back three knocked away everything that was sent their way.
Oliver O’Neill created his side’s only chance, and this was a low ball into the box that no one was there for.
After Coventry made it 1-0 to Ireland in the shoot-out, Peretz guessed right three times and this has qualified Israel to their first Under-21 European Championships since 2013.
Israel: Daniel Peretz; Roi Herman, Gil Cohen, Doron Leidner, Eden Karzev, Ido Shahar, Noam Gil Melamud, Idan Gorno, Liel Abada, Oscar Gloukh.
Substitutes: Mohammad Kanaan for Ido Shahar 62, Hisham Layous for Doron Leidner 63, Osher Davida for Idan Gorno 70, Zohar Zasno for Roi Herman 74, Yoav Hofmeister and Adir Levi for Oscar Gloukh and Liel Abada 97, Republic of Ireland: Brian Maher; Eiran Cashin, Jake O’Brien, Joe Redmond, Lee O’Connor, Andy Lyons, Conor Coventry, Joe Hodge, Will Smallbone, Ross Tierney, Aaron Connolly.
Substitutes: Dawson Devoy and Finn Azaz for Joe Hodge and Ross Tierney 59, Tyreik Wright for Andy Lyons 84, Sean Roughan for Eiran Cashin 91, Evan Ferguson and Oliver O'Neil for Aaron Connolly and Will Smallbone 106.
Referee: Nathan Verboomen