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Ireland U19s lose opening European qualifier to Switzerland

The Republic of Ireland have lost the opening game of their UEFA Under-19 European Championship qualifiers 2-1 to Switzerland in Salzburg.

Goals from Julian Vonmoos and Lorent Tolaj were enough to completed the turnaround from Oisin McEntee’s early goal with Ireland ending the match with 10 men following Mazeed Ogungbo’s 65th-minute dismissal for a second yellow card.

The game had been due to take place Wednesday afternoon but heavy snow in Austria meant the game was postponed until today.

It had been the dream start for Ireland when they took an early lead. Armstrong Oko-Flex crossed in from a short corner and McEntee provided the back-post finish to give Tom Mohan’s side a superb lead.

From that moment on, Switzerland grew into the game. On 12 minutes they had a great opportunity when Vonmoos went one-on-one but Jimmy Corcoran was quick to close down the advancing attacker and the ball went harmlessly wide.

Halfway through the first half the Swiss had another chance when Felix Mambimbi collected a fine chip over the top, however, he saw his effort from inside the 18-yard-box deflect over the bar.

Ireland battled hard to preserve their lead and did well to thwart any threats from the Swiss attack and went in at the break ahead.

In the second half, Switzerland continued the pressure and they got back on level terms on 57 minutes. Vonmoos took advantage of a counter-attack from an Ireland free-kick and the Basel forward was able to apply the finish.

Less than 10 minutes later came a big moment in the game. Ogbungo, who had already received a caution, was shown a second yellow card by referee Kirill Levnikov and sent off.

On 79 minutes came what proved to be the winning goal. Substitute Tolaj, who had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes, reacted fastest to a rebounded shot to convert his effort.

Despite being a man down Ireland had several chances to equalise late on. First Oko-Flex had his shot well saved by Nils De Mol. Then Mark McGuinness' header found Thomas Cannon for an overhead kick but De Mol was equal to that too.

Mohan’s side now face a crucial game on Saturday against Gibraltar in Straßwalchen at 12pm (Irish time).

Ireland: Corcoran; Ebosele, Ogungbo, McGuinness, McEntee (C); O’Reilly, Everitt (Gilbert 46), Coffey, Noss (Cannon 86), Oko-Flex (Richards 67); Cassidy (Wright 86)

Switzerland: De Mol; Frei, Mistrafovic, Stergiou, Omeragic; Sohm (C) (Cuemi 90+1, Males (Vasic 65), Jankewitz; Vonmoos (Bunjaku 90+1), Azevedo, Mambimbi (Tolaj 74)

Referee: Kirill Levnikov (Russia)