Head Coach Stephen Kenny saw his Republic of Ireland U21 side commence their 2019 Toulon Tournament challenge with an impressive four one victory over the China U23 side managed by the legendary Dutchman Guus Hiddinck in the Stade de Lattre this Monday afternoon.
Ireland sprinted out of the blocks with the opening goal scored by Zach Elbouzedi of Waterford after just 33 seconds with Brighton & Hove Albion striker Aaron Connolly the creator. Just four minutes later, Connolly added the second goal. China did recover a little and reduced the arrears following a corner kick after nineteen minutes. Ireland remained composed throughout the remainder of the half in sultry conditions and a disappointingly bumpy pitch.
Ireland continued to dominate throughout the second half, retaining quality possession coupled with accurate passing. Ten minutes into the half, Ireland added the third goal, scored by Adam Idah of Norwich City from the penalty spot following a handball offence. Idah reprised his action on eighty two minutes with another penalty conversion, again following a handball incident.
Stephen Kenny will be delighted with the performance of his young charges but will be conscious that our next opponents Mexico, three time winners of the competition, will provide a much sterner test.
Team: Caoimhin Kelleher(Liverpool); Lee O’Connor(Manchester United), Conor Masterson(Liverpool), Dara O’Shea(West Bromwich Albion), Darragh Leahy(Bohemian); Conor Coventry(West Ham United), Jayson Molumby [C] (Brighton & Hove Albion); Zach Elbouzedi(Waterford), Connor Ronan(Wolverhampton Wanderers) Aaron Connolly(Brighton & Hove Albion); Adam Idah(Norwich City)
Jason Knight(Derby County)for Ronan 63′
Simon Power(Norwich City) for Connolly
Aaron Drinan(Ipswich Town on loan at Waterford),
Jamie Lennon (St Patricks Athletic) for Molumby 84′.
In the other opening Group C contest, pre Tournament favourites Mexico defeated Bahrain by two goals to nil.
P W D L F A G/D Pts
Ireland 1 1 0 0 4 1 3 3
Mexico 1 1 0 0 2 0 2 3
Bahrain 1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0
China 1 0 0 1 1 4 -3 0