Football

Watch: Smallbone and Afolabi Each Net Two As U19s Roll Romania

Watch: Smallbone and Afolabi Each Net Two As U19s Roll Romania

Tom Mohan's Ireland U19s side have got off to a fine start as they bid to qualify for this summer's Euro U19 tournament in Armenia.

Drawn in Elite Group One alongside hosts Russia, Romania and Azerbaijan for this week's three qualifying games, the youngsters turned in a highly competent performance this lunchtime over the Romanians, doing their chances of topping the table no harm whatsoever.

Southampton duo Will Smallbone and Jonathan Afalobi linked superbly in attack for the Boys in Green, each grabbing a brace, with Smallbone also forcing an own goal in a 5-0 drubbing.

Coach Mohan was quick to praise his charges, highlighting the "clinical" finishing that put the lads in the driving seat early on.

Afolabi coolly sidefooted a Smallbone square to the net after seven minutes, before Smallbone himself was the beneficiary of a Will Ferry - another Southampton starlet - cut back from the end line to finish from the penalty spot four minutes later.

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Taking a two-goal lead into the break, the Republic extended their lead early in the second half, with Smallwood finishing a neat passing move with a drill to the bottom corner, in the 53rd minute before his corner to the near post was turned into his own net by Claudiu Petrila just shy of the hour-mark.

Afolabi rounded things off in the 64th minute after good work from Kameron Ledwidge and Ali Reghba.

Next up for Mohan and the boys is Azerbaijan on Saturday before meeting the hosts back in Krasnodar next Tuesday.

Should they qualify for the underage tournament, they would become the first Irish set up to do so in eight years. In 2011, a team featuring the likes of current senior stars Matt Doherty, John Egan and Jeff Hendrick made the semifinals of the tournament, before taking a 5-0 hammering from a Spain side starring Alvaro Morata and Gerard Deulofeu.

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Aaron Strain

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