Football

Here's How The Ireland U21s' Group Is Shaping Up After Loss In Iceland

Here's How The Ireland U21s' Group Is Shaping Up After Loss In Iceland

Well, that was a bit disappointing. With the form the Ireland U21 team had displayed in the group up until this point, many had expected Stephen Kenny's side to get all three points in Iceland this afternoon.

Unfortunately, things didn't work out that way. The hosts would take the lead via a first half penalty and that proved to be the only goal of the game.

Ireland dominated the ball in the second half but failed to break them down. Apart from a couple of opportunities from set-pieces, they did not create many chances of note. Lee O'Connor was also sent off late on and will be suspended for the next qualifier.

The conditions were quite difficult with a difficult to manage astro turf pitch being made even harder to manage with high winds. Still, Ireland will be disappointed with this one.

So how does the group look after Ireland's loss? In all, Ireland are still in a strong position. They sit top of the group, but Sweden, Italy and Iceland all have games in hand.

Assuming heavy favourites Sweden hang onto their lead in Luxembourg, that table will remain in place until next month.

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Ireland play two games next month, away to Armenia and at home to Sweden. Four points will be the minimum requirement from those ones, with two wins putting Ireland in a very strong position.

The Italians remain the favourites to qualify at this early stage, especially when you consider that Stephen Kenny's side must still travel to Italy in the final game of the group.

One plus is that Iceland and Sweden both still have to come to Dublin. Here's Ireland's fixtures in full:

14/11/19 - Armenia (A)

19/11/19 - Sweden (H)

26/3/19 - Iceland (H)

31/3/19 - Luxembourg (A)

13/10/20 - Italy (A)

Top place in the group will automatically qualify for the Euros in Hungary and Slovenia in 2021, while the runners-up will likely go into a play-off (although the best second placed team out of all the groups will qualify automatically).

Ireland remain in a very good position, but things got a little bit trickier after the result in Iceland.

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Gary Connaughton

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