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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 August, 2004, 20:35 GMT 21:35 UK
Rep Ire U21 3-2 Bulgaria
Stephen Elliott
Stephen Elliott hit the target in the ninth minute in Drogheda
Paddy McCarthy's 89th minute goal helped the Republic of Ireland's U21s claim a thrilling 3-2 win over their Bulgarian counterparts in Drogheda.

The defender headed home Aiden McGeady's 89th minute free-kick nine minutes after giving away the penalty from which Dimitr Rangelov equalised.

Stephen Elliott and Jay Tabb had twice given Ireland the lead only to be twice denied by Rangelov equalisers.

The win extended the Irish side's unbeaten run to 12 games.

Celtic 18-year-old McGeady was given his debut to add to the full cap he received against Jamaica in June.

Leeds' Henry McStay came in at full-back as Ireland aimed to maintain confidence ahead of their forthcoming European U21 qualifiers.

Ireland made an encouraging start with Whelan's second-minute cross from the left heading for Kevin Doyle until Mihail Venkov's interception.

Irish pressure paid off in the ninth minute when Elliott curled home a fine effort from the edge of the box from Liam Kearney's cross.

Whelan forced Emil Petrov into a low save with a long-range shot in the 17th minute as the Republic's dominance continued.

Bulgaria's only early chance fell to Dimitr Rangelov in the 22nd minute but his shot was blocked in the box by John Fitzgerald.

Don Givens
Republic of Ireland U21 boss Don Givens

The impressive McGeady came close with a powerful long-range effort in the 25th minute which flashed just wide.

Irish boss Givens made three changes at half-time with Drogheda's own Sean Thornton among those introduced.

Fitzgerald stabbed a 50th minute effort over the bar after picking up Jay Tabb's deflected free-kick.

Bulgaria then did get on terms in the 55th minute when Dimitr Rangelov headed home Stoyanov's right-wing cross.

Ireland's revised team were beginning to struggle with Rangelov also coming close from long range.

Rangelov came even closer in the 64th minute with a powerful swerving shot from outside the box which flew just wide of Murphy's right-hand post.

Paddy McCarthy had to clear off the goal-line to keep Ireland level in the 69th minute after Stoyanov beat Fitzgerald in the box and shot low.

Ireland regained the lead in the 72nd minute through substitute Tabb.

The Brentford 20-year-old rose well in the box to power a header down and past Uzunov from McGeady's cross.

Rangelov equalised from the spot in the 80th minute after Paddy McCarthy's foul in the box.

However, McCarthy made up for his mistake by heading home McGeady's cross in the 89th minute at the other end to seal a dramatic win.

Rep of Ireland U21: Henderson, McStay, Capper, McCarthy, Fitzgerald, Whelan, McGeady, Potter, Elliott, Doyle, Kearney. Subs: Thornton, Kendrick, Tabb, Flood, Brain Murphy, Dillon, Mulligan.

Bulgaria U21: Petrov, Dyakov, Venkov, Milanov, Vergilov, Palankov, Stoyanov, Hazurov, Rangelov, Zlatinov, Trifonov. Subs: Uzunov, Atanasov, Kakalov, Boychev, Tsenovski, Dimitrov, Zakov. Referee: C Richmond (Scotland)


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