Ireland U21 vs Serbia U21 by DamirJ
Ireland's hopes were finished in the previous match as for these qualifications, when the team suffered 3:2 defeat away to Serbia and got directly excluded from the race for the second position. However, should be said that the opponent was at least a bit better than what the final result shows and that their victory could have came quite easier.
Serbs were dominating the ball possession and looked much more dangerous in the first halftime, taking the lead in 12th minute with a goal from Djurdjevic, while the Irish players were oriented to counter attacking style of play. Lazic doubled up the lead for Serbia at 65th minute in the second halftime, but the visitors were able to get more threatening situations in front of opponents goal from that moment on, reducing the deficit four minutes later via O'Dowda. Even though Serbs re-installed two goals lead from a penalty kick taken by Djurdjevic in 72nd, Irish were able to reduce it again ten minutes before the full time whistle via Maguire.
Goalkeeper Danny Rogers (11/0), defender Jack Connors (14/0), midfielder Dylan Connolly (11/2), forwards Conor Wilkinson (12/2) won't be part of the team this time. Their coach has obviously opted for a bit younger players in order to test them, since the team ends their qualifying path with this match and has nothing to lose.
Back in the previous game for Serbia, they took the 3:2 victory over Ireland, but as already said, the victory could have been easier, with qualify difference being obvious. Lack of concentration in the defensive lineup of Serbia made the things much more difficult for them at times, but overall it was a well deserved three pointer.
It seems that Serbian national team is in a decent form now, as they previously took a point on the road against Italian team and looked very dangerous at some phases during the match. They are now at the second position and need to get a victory here badly, not only to continue being second in the group, but also to get between first four "second placed teams" out of all groups. Serbs will not be able to count at midfielders Sasa Zdjlar (7/0) and Nemanja Maksimovic (4/0), but without huge names missing in the team. Couple of players in their team surely have quality to be at least on the bench of the first team, but are brought here in order to help in the deciding game.
Ireland is a decent side, but the team was already looking like a weaker one just few weeks ago. Now with nothing to play for, I can't see past Serbian victory here, with the visitors having a lot of stake.