Euro U21 Qualifying - Group 2
Northern Ireland U213Spain U215

Northern Ireland U21 3-5 Spain U21

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Gutsy Northern Ireland fall to Spain in Under-21 qualifier

Northern Ireland's Under-21s equalised three times against Spain but fell to a home defeat in Thursday's Euro 2019 qualifying match at Shamrock Park.

Real Madrid's Borja Mayoral scored a hat-trick as the Group Two leaders extended their lead over the second-placed Northern Irish to five points.

Mikel Oyarzabal got the other two for Spain who have won all five qualifiers.

For Northern Ireland, Shayne Lavery scored twice after defender Liam Donnelly had netted a penalty.

Northern Ireland play Iceland at the Coleraine Showgrounds on Monday.

Only the winners of the nine groups - plus hosts Italy - qualify automatically for the 2019 European Under-21 Championship finals.

Northern Ireland fell to their second defeat in the qualifying campaign for Euro 2019
Northern Ireland Under-21s fell to their second defeat in Euro 2019 qualifying

The opening exchanges in Thursday's match were quite even but it was group favourites Spain who took the lead on 14 minutes as Real Sociedad winger Oyarzabal netted with a low first-time shot.

Northern Ireland equalised through Donnelly's penalty in the 29th minute after Crusaders man Gavin Whyte had been fouled by Mikel Merino close to the bye-line.

It was Newcastle United midfielder Merino who supplied a fine through ball from which Oyarzabal scored to edge the visitors into a 2-1 lead in the 44th minute.

But Northern Ireland hit back to level again in first-half stoppage-time.

After a ball in from the left, Hartlepool defender Donnelly's shot looked to be going in but Lavery made sure with the final touch right on the goal-line.

Spain's Unai Nunez challenges Paul Smuth of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland have 10 points from six matches in Group Two

But once again, Northern Ireland did not manage to stay on level terms for long.

Less than two minutes had been played in the second half when striker Mayoral scored with a clever back flick from Carlos Soler's low delivery from the right.

However, Ian Baraclough's boys responded for a third time with Lavery switching onto his right to fire a strong shot past Alaves keeper Antonio Sivera.

Mayoral shot in at the far post to restore the Spanish lead on 74 minutes and then headed his side's fifth near the end.

What they said

NI manager Ian Baraclough: "We are disappointed to lose the game and when we look back at how we conceded goals we will be disappointed.

"But the lads deserve great credit for the attitude and commitment they showed in fighting back three times, because a lot of teams would have crumbled.

"It gives us massive encouragement and we feel we can go now and get three points against Iceland on Monday."

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Thursday 22nd March 2018

As It Stood


1Greece U2165101921716
2Croatia U2154101631313
3Czech Rep U2142118807
4Belarus U2152126607
5Moldova U216105516-113
6Portugal U2100000000
7Switzerland U2100000000
8San Marino U216006120-190


1Spain U2155001651115
2Northern Ireland U2163121110110
3Iceland U2152127617
4Albania U2151314406
5Slovakia U215203512-76
6Estonia U216015612-61


1Denmark U2154012051512
2Poland U215320136711
3Faroe Islands U215122610-45
4Georgia U215113613-74
5Finland U214031611-53
6Lithuania U21410339-63


1England U215410102813
2Netherlands U21522113498
3Ukraine U21522110468
4Scotland U2152126607
5Latvia U216033210-83
6Andorra U214013015-151


1Germany U2165012361715
2R. of Ireland U21531193610
3Kosovo U21731388010
4Norway U21622278-18
5Israel U216213913-47
6Azerbaijan U216015321-181


1Belgium U216420105514
2Hungary U215320103711
3Sweden U21422010468
4Cyprus U217205717-106
5Turkey U21512234-15
6Malta U215005310-70


1Serbia U2155001331015
2Russia U21531184410
3Austria U21530213499
4Armenia U217214511-67
5Gibraltar U216105114-133
6Macedonia U21410337-43


1Romania U21633093612
2Bosnia and Herzegovina U21530214599
3Portugal U2142116517
4Wales U21521267-17
5Switzerland U21621358-37
6Liechtenstein U214004113-120


1France U2155001551015
2Slovenia U215311106410
3Kazakhstan U2151318806
4Bulgaria U21512268-25
5Luxembourg U215113510-54
6Montenegro U215014411-71
View full Euro U21 Qualifying tables

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