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Last Updated: Friday, 25 March, 2005, 15:10 GMT
Israel U21 3-1 Rep of Ireland U21
Don Givens
Don Givens' Republic side have now lost three of their qualifiers
Any slim hopes the Republic of Ireland Under-21s had of qualifying for the European Championship finals were ended by this 3-1 defeat by Israel on Friday.

Don Givens' side conceded two goals in the first six minutes with Yaniv Azrane's opener swiftly followed by an own goal from Henry McStay.

Leeds defender McStay pulled one back for the Republic in the 35th minute.

However, Shlomi Arbeitman scored Israel's third in the 52nd minute and the home side dominated thereafter.

Givens insisted his players needed to take 13 points from the remaining five matches to clinch a top-two finish in their group, but he could not have envisaged a more disastrous start.

Less than two minutes after Sheffield Wednesday's Glenn Whelan had been booked for a third-minute foul on Shai Abutbul, Israel took the lead.

From Moshe Ohayon's corner, Yaniv Azrane rose unopposed to flick a header from eight yards beyond Notts County goalkeeper Saul Deeney.

Within a minute Ireland suffered another bitter blow, with Leeds centre-back Henry McStay stooping to clear a long-range shot from Ohayon, only to inadvertently head past the wrong-footed and unfortunate Deeney.

McStay was part of a radically-revamped defence shorn of the services of the suspended Paddy McCarthy and injured Stephen Kelly, with Manchester United's Paul McShane stepping in to make his debut.

The Leeds player atoned for his earlier indiscretion by heading Willo Flood's free-kick to the net in the 35th minute.

However, the Republic goal came under siege at the start of the second period and seven minutes after the restart they were again cast two goals adrift with Arbeitman finding the net with a close-range header.

The scoreline could have been worse if Serbian referee Dragomir Tanovic had not waved away three strong penalty appeals as the Irish wilted badly.

Israel U21: Al Madon, Iluz, Keinan, Haimovich, Abo Siam, Abutbul, Dajani, Ohayon, Cohen, Azran, Arbeitman. Subs: Shekel, Shahbary, Danin, Sarsour, Amasha, Vermot, Yitzhaki.

Rep of Ireland U21: Deeney, Foley, McShane, McStay, Paisley, Flood, Potter, Whelan, McGeady, Tabb, Murphy. Subs: Henderson, Doyle, Thornton, Kohlmann, Alan O'Brien, Quigley, Fitzgerald.

Referee: Dragomir Tanovic (Serbia & Montenegro)

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