UEFA Regions Cup – Intermediary Round – Group 7
North-East Macedonia – 0
Republic of Ireland – 2
Republic of Ireland have made it two wins from two in their defence of the UEFA Regions Cup as a goal either side of half-time ensured Gerry Davis’ men saw off the challenge of North-East Macedonia in Inveruno on Friday afternoon to ensure they finish top of the group and claim a qualification spot.
The Munster Connaught representative panel came into the game in pole position of Group 7 having defeated Italy’s Lombardia thanks to an Eoin Hayes strike while North-East Macedonia were seeking their first win of the competition having drawn 0-0 with MNZ Maribor in their first fixture.
The opening attempt of the game came inside ten minutes when centre-half Mark Horgan saw an effort saved by Bekim Redjepi inside the Macedonia goal.
Nine minutes later the deadlock was broken when Armend Aliu fouled David Joyce just outside the area. Shane Daly-Butz stepped up and his stunning free-kick found the back of the net.
Ireland continued to dictate the pace of the game for the best part of the first-half with David Hoban and Christopher Higgins coming close on two occasions.
Brendan O’Connell was kept on his toes, however, making saves from Dario Desnikj and Macedonian captain Gjoko Aleksovski before the break.
Ireland began the second period as they did the first at a dynamic pace and within five minutes of the restart doubled their advantage when Daly-Butz set up Hoban to strike and double the advantage.
Macedonia reacted well and grinded out chances through Risteski, however, O’Connell was on hand to foil the danger-man on two occasions as they searched desperately for a way back into the contest.
With fifteen minutes to play Hayes picked up his second yellow of the game for a foul on Aleksovski to ensure Ireland would have to defend their lead with ten men in the final period.
However, in similar circumstances to the Italian game, the Irish back-line once again withheld every Macedonian attack thrown their way to seak not only a second-consecutive win but another clean sheet.
Ireland have now made it six points from six in what has been the perfect start to the defence of the Regions Cup as they sit top of Group 7, three points clear of Lombardia (Italy) who defeated MNZ Maribor 4-1 in today’s other game. Ireland are guaranteed qualification as group winners even if they drop points in their next game as they will finish ahead of Italy on the head-to-head record.
However, Davis’ side will indeed look to make it three wins from three when they face Maribor in Carvaggio this Sunday at 2:30pm Irish time.
Republic of Ireland:
Brendan O’Connell, Stephen Kelly, Mark Horgan, Chris Higgins, Danny O’Neill, Shane Daly Butz, EugeneO’Donovan, David Joyce, Eoin Hayes, David Hoban, Jimmy Carr
Subs Used: Andrew Gannon, Brian Murphy, Steven Bradley