England 1 Republic of Ireland 0
As they once again failed to take their chances, Tom Mohan’s young Ireland could have no complaints as a sublime goal from Marcus Edwards saw their journey at these Uefa Under-17 Championships in Bulgaria emphatically ended.
A talented England, the reigning champions, were fully deserving victors at the Beroe Stadium in Stara Zagora, and worthy of winning Group D to advance to the quarter-finals along with Italy, who secured the draw they needed against the Netherlands in the other pool game.
Ireland finished bottom with just one point and no goals to show for their spirited efforts.
Edwards’s 71st-minute goal was worthy of winning any match. Skilfully making room on the edge of the area, the Tottenham striker sent a rising shot past Caoimhin Kelleher and into the roof of the Ireland net.
“It was disappointing as we had some very good chances,” said Ireland boss Mohan.
“We needed that first goal against such good quality opposition. The attacking players England have are fantastic.
“You saw the goal that young Marcus Edwards scored, absolutely fantastic. We did very well to prevent other goals at other stages in the game.
“At the same time, it’s been the story of our campaign, that, when we did create chances we just weren’t clinical enough.”
As their 13 attempts to one suggested, England had much the better of the first half.
The best of those England chances fell to Ike Ugbo whose shot was bravely blocked by Darragh Leahy, Ireland’s most impressive defender here this week.
Kelleher then made the stop of the half with a fine one-handed save from Nathan Holland’s drive on 34 minutes.
Ireland showed far more purpose on the resumption, blowing their best chance of the game three minutes in.
England goalkeeper Paul Woolston could only parry substitute Anthony Scully’s fierce drive. Jonathan Lunney looked set to score from the rebound, but his weak lob was hooked clear by the retreating Danny Collinge.
Another bright opening for Ireland on 62 minute saw Barrett set up Zackary Ebouzedi who drilled his shot wide.
“I’d say they were the best of the three teams we played,” said Mohan on England. “Our boys gave everything they had and you couldn’t ask anything more from them.
“It just didn’t happen for some lads on the night. With young players you’re not always going to get consistency.
“Of course they are disappointed, but they did fantastically well to be here. We’ve been competitive in every game and we played some brilliant football along the way. I’m proud of them each and every one of them.
“Also the staff. Everybody who represented the under-17s here over the last two weeks, I couldn’t be more thankful to.”
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Kelleher (Ringmahon Rangers); O’Keeffe (Birmingham), Masterson (Liverpool), Leahy (Coventry), McCourt (West Brom); Agyei-Tabi (Arsenal), Livingston (Wolves); Wade-Slater (St Kevin’s), Ronan (Wolves), Lunney (Preston); Barrett (Reading). Subs: Scully (West Ham) for Wade-Slater (34 mins.), Ebouzedi (West Brom) for Livingston (58 mins.), Aherne (Lucan United) for Barrett (75 mins.).
ENGLAND: Woolston; Yates, Oxford, Collinge, Dasilva; Wright, Kane; Holland, Edwards, Ndukwu; Ugbo.
Subs: Willock for Ndukwu (half-time), Sulliman for Collinge (49 mins), Mavididi for Ugbo (72 mins).
Referee: Pawel Raczkowski (Poland).