08.10.2017 at 15:00 Tallaght Stadium
Referee: Fedayi San (SUI)
European Qualifier / PROG-match
Kieran O Hara
Ghantus (Gamoun 11, (Nahmias 70)),
Grego-Cox hat-trick secures Israel win
Republic of Ireland Under-21s continued their unbeaten run in UEFA U21 European Championship qualifying with an impressive 4-0 win over Israel.
QPR striker Reece Grego-Cox scored a hat-trick and Everton midfielder Harry Charsley completed the scoring as Ireland stay top of Group Five.
It was a fantastic performance from start to finish as Noel King went with an unchanged team, and they continued their unbeaten run at Tallaght Stadium.
It took just over 40 seconds to go ahead. It was a goal made in Loftus Road as QPR duo forward Ryan Manning found a low cross to Reece Grego-Cox, and he tucked home from six-yards out.
Derry City forward Ronan Curtis should have made it 2-0 eight minutes later when he bustled through two Israeli defenders on the edge of the area, but placed his effort wide of the left-hand post.
Israel were struggling to deal with the Irish front-three of Manning, Curtis and Grego-Cox, and the latter should have added to his tally in the 20th minute, but he couldn't direct Harry Charsley's low cross goal-wards from eight yards out.
It was Charsley who eventually doubled Ireland's lead as the industrious Grego-Cox somehow dug out a cross from the left and after captain Josh Cullen touched the ball on, the Everton midfielder tucked home under the keeper after the half-hour.
Three minutes later, Ireland went into a three-goal lead. Israel lost the ball in defence and after a brilliant through-ball to Curtis, the Derry City forward was fouled by the out-stretched keeper, and the referee pointed to the spot. Grego-Cox took up the responsibility and put Ireland into a commanding lead at the break.
Any worries about a Israeli second-half comeback were quickly extinguished as Grego-Cox claimed his hat-trick. Manning's right-sided corner was only punched away as far as Curtis who saw his shot well saved but Grego-Cox tucked home the rebound in the 50th minute.
Ireland continued to press forward in search of more goals as Manning went close but Ireland secured an impressive victory to stay unbeaten and continue their run at the top of the UEFA U21 European Championship qualifying group five.
Ireland U21 boss Noel King said: "It was a great performance throughout. We kept our discipline throughout the game and to get the fourth goal in the second-half really clinched the game for us.
"We've been in all week and a lot of effort went into it, from the players and the staff as well, so it is a great reward for their hard work. We would have liked to have got two wins in the week but to stay unbeaten and to get 10 points out of 12 puts us in a great position."
Ireland U21 assistant manager Harry McHugh said: "The best thing about this group is that the starting XI know there is so much quality in the squad, that someone on the bench can take their place if they don't perform.
"It's a long campaign and the whole squad will definitely get their chance to impress but it definitely keeps everyone on their toes. I've really been impressed with the whole group and we need to keep that spirit high for the rest of the campaign."
Republic of Ireland: O'Hara (GK), Kane, Whelan, Donnellan, Sweeney, Cullen (C), Rice (Shaughnessy 77), Charsley (Quigley 80), Grego-Cox (Mulraney 69), Manning, Curtis.
Subs not used: Bossin (GK), Kinsella, Ronan, Delaney.
Israel: Glazer (GK), Meir, Ben David, Ghantus (Gamoun 11, (Nahmias 70)), Bitton, Plakushchenko, Peretz (C), Weissman, Solomon, Nassar, Barshazky.
Subs: Hasson (GK), Hozez, Cohen, Awwad, Avraham.
Referee: Fedayi San (SUI)