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Last Updated: Friday, 10 October, 2003, 19:11 GMT 20:11 UK
Irish U21s stun Swiss
Switzerland U21 0-2 Republic U21

Bolton striker Jon Walters scored two goals on his debut to stun the Group 10 leaders and make it a very happy return to Neuchatel for manager Don Givens.

Don Givens' side produced an excellent display last month
Don Givens' side defeated Russia last month

It was the perfect way for Givens to celebrate being awarded a new two-year contract, and it showed there are some bright youngsters emerging for the Republic of Ireland.

Givens played for the final eight years of his career at Neuchatel Xamax, and when he retired in 1987 he went on to coach the club for two years.

So it was an emotional return to the Stade de la Maladiere for the former Republic striker as his experimental team blitzed the Swiss with goals from Walters after 61 and 74 minutes.

Givens handed debuts to three of Gerry Smyth's Under-20 squad - Blackburn's John Fitzgerald, Paul Keegan of Leeds and Walters - as the Irish attempted to take a glimpse into the future and also aid preparations for the Under-20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates in November and December.

The Irish weathered an early storm from the Swiss, who went into this final qualifier with six wins from the previous seven games of the campaign.

Stefan Lichsteiner showed quick feet on the right of the box to set up striker Johan Volanthen to drive a low shot just inches wide of Dan Connor's upright after two minutes.

The visitors' first real chance came after 18 minutes but Swiss stopper Marco Wolfli reacted smartly to the threat of Sunderland's Sean Thornton who was looking to get on the end Wes Hoolahan's corner from close range.

Sean Thornton had a fine game for Don Givens' side
Sunderland's Sean Thornton was in action for the Irish

Ireland's confidence was up and Thornton was in the thick of it again after 22 minutes when he played in Stephen Elliott but his shot from six yards was brilliantly blocked with a last ditch Swiss tackle.

Ireland did well to frustrate their hosts and created three good chances before the break.

Walters met Elliott's cross with a powerful volley which hit the bar and flew over, then on the half hour Elliott collected Hoolahan's pass but screwed a left foot drive wide from 20 yards.

Three minutes before the break Borussia Dortmund full-back Patrick Kohlmann hit a left foot rocket from distance which flew wide.

The Irish took the lead in the 61st minute with Tottenham full-back Stephen Kelly's deep cross to the far post headed home by Walters.

Ireland's sensational victory was complete when Walters scored with another header after 74 minutes.

This time Shelbourne's Hoolahan was the provider with a corner which Walters finished from close range.

Both sets of fans reserved the biggest roar of the evening for Walters when he was replaced eight minutes from the end.




SEE ALSO
Irish U21s shock Russians
05 Sep 03  |  Rep of Ireland
Irish U21s hold Germans
02 Jun 03  |  Rep of Ireland


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